Fitting Out (Year 4):

Date Discussion
9/4/2013 Here we are folks, yet another new chapter. Just to refresh your memories, Rhapsody's hull was started in July 2008 and completed in February 2010. The hull was turned "right side up" on March 5th, 2010 and that's when the fateful phrase "just the fitting-out to go" was first uttered. This chapter covers the fourth year of "just fitting out" ........

The total construction time is now approaching five years, which is astonishing. How can a job take that long? And, it's not finished yet. Even the major parts are not finished, never mind the myriad of details like trimming, painting, plumbing, glazing and wiring. Still, one war at a time........

The last jobs mentioned at the end of the previous instalment were the roof beams and the rear of the cabin wall. The roof beams are all installed now, including those half-length beams that make up the bathroom roof and support the bathroom / passage wall. There are two left to go in to finish the bathroom, but they are three quarter length beams that only cross the boat as far as the sundeck stairs and since I'm not ready to build the stairs yet, those beams will have to wait.

The back wall of the cabin was raked forward at 13° as per the advice from Philip Mathews concerning the cast step pads, and the roof beams spaced out accordingly. It turns out the Philip makes two versions of the steps, one with a forward rake and the other with a reverse rake, the problem being that the angle of rake for each is different. Needless to say we got the wrong one and the rake on the rear wall is now unsuitable for the step treads and it's too late to correct it because the roof beam spacing has been set for the greater slope. Pity. Never mind, we will stick with the rake we have and see what we can do for step treads in due course.

Another section of the bathroom wall has been dry fitted, and that has highlighted the need to finalise the size of both the wardrobe and bathroom doors. I should be used to the "one thing leads to another" syndrome, or in this case the size of the door openings depending upon the door frame mouldings. So make the door frame mouldings - easy! Except of course, in order to fit the door frame mouldings you have to have not only the roof beams finished to locate their top edges, but the floor finished for their lower edges. Now, you can't finish the floor because the Fresh Water Tank, which goes under the floor, isn't finished either and the floor of the passage and bedroom is also the lid of the fresh water tank. But wait, it gets worse; the stern tube carrying the propeller shaft goes through the fresh water tank in a PVC tube and although that has been cut, it is not installed in its final position. To determine the proper position for the stern tube, a string line is needed from the propeller position to the rear engine mounts and doing that requires an accurate jig made using the actual engine as a template. So, fixing the top of a door frame has to start with more work around the engine mounts and propeller shaft. Amazing.

The propeller shaft is 3200mm long. It is supported in the stern tube after the first metre or so by a Tufnol water lubricated bush behind the stuffing box. However, it needs a steady bearing in the middle of the remaining two metres of shaft to stop any vibration. I bought a vertically mounted, self centring bearing from CBC and considered mounting it on a simple flat panel installed across the tunnel under the passage. Then it occurred to me that it would be possible to make such a panel into a new forward wall for the fresh water tank and therefore making the tank significantly larger. I calculated the original capacity at 270 litres, more or less, and using the bearing mounting panel as the new forward wall of the tank increases it to about 340 litres, which is a very worthwhile gain! There is some reduction in the area in which I had intended to install the house batteries, but I think it will still be adequate. In any case, I have some alternative spaces available I now realise; more on that in a minute.

The new bearing carrier and forward panel for the fresh tank has been cut out with the aid of the trusty Jiggle Stick and has been glassed on the bench ready for installation.

The gearbox centre line jig has been made and installed in the hull and the alignment of the propeller shaft checked. The shaft not only goes through the fresh water tank in a PVC tube, which now has to be re-made of course to account for the extra length of the tank, but also goes through the aft water ballast tank, which is another lovely job that is lying in wait, hidden under the bed and forgotten about for some years.

Those of you who have read this missive from the start will know the time it took to get the front ballast and black water tanks finished so should be ready to read much more in these pages about what I expect to be the trials and tribulations of building the fresh tank and the aft ballast tank. The up-side is that having built the front tanks; I have some experience ready for building the aft set. I hope it helps........

17/04/2013 The new end panel for the fresh water tank has been made and glassed both sides on the bench ready for installation. As mentioned above, this panel also carries the steady bearing for the propeller shaft and some thought was required to find a way to make it not only secure, but also adjustable. Remembering that this panel is the wall of a tank and therefore needs to be watertight as well, proved to be a bit of a challenge.

The solution is a double thickness of plywood glued to the tank panel holding bolts embedded in epoxy with their threaded ends left sticking out. On these bolts (now studs) is mounted a 4mm aluminium plate that will hold the actual cast iron bearing carrier installed with countersunk machine screws. The screws will be undersized, as are the holes in the aluminium plate, so that some adjustment of the bearing position is available. In the worst case, where the range of adjustment becomes insufficient, the plate can be re-drilled or even a new one made and fitted. All of which can be done without disturbing the tank wall.

Some months ago I discovered miniature washing machines and thought 'what a good idea'. I purchased a machine though Ebay and a very impressive little gadget it is too. However, what I hadn't realised was that from the EPA's perspective it put the vessel in a different 'class' for the purposes of grey water management. Whilst the EPA allows craft with the minimum grey water production facilities of 1 shower, 1 hand basin and 1 galley sink, the so-called 1:1:1 class, to not have to retain greywater, the minute you add other items such as a second shower, a spa or a washing machine everything changes. In that circumstance, the vessel has then to retain all greywater, which is a serious game changer. So, does anyone want to buy a brand new miniature washing machine?

I mentioned above that the extension of the fresh water tank reduced the area that I had originally allocated to the House batteries. Now of course, with no washing machine, the area immediately adjacent to the planned battery location is available, so all is well. In fact, it's better than that. The original battery location was proposed to be alongside the back of the gearbox, which is essentially part of the engine bay. Now the engine is petrol and any flammable fumes that might escape are heavier than air meaning that in that circumstance the batteries would be surrounded by explosive gases. Not nice. I propose to install a bilge blower to force ventilate the compartment together with a gas "sniffer" to monitor matters and start the bilge blowers when the engine is not running. However, it is not something with which I've been particularly comfortable.

It gets worse. When a battery is charged, what gas is released? Hydrogen! Given that hydrogen is lighter than air the worst case scenario might be that the batteries are suddenly swimming in heavy and explosive petrol fumes, whilst the engine is surrounded by the lighter hydrogen, which is equally explosive. Now bilge blowers scavenge from the bottom of the engine room, which is fine, but where does the hydrogen go? It's enough to give an insurance man the horrors.........

The result of that rambling dissertation is that whilst losing the washing machine is a blow to domestic automation, the ability to move the batteries to their own separately vented enclosure is a really, really good idea, perhaps avoiding a rather different sort of "blow" .

01/05/2013 The bearing carrier structure described above has been made and installed. The fresh water tank has been extended and its new front wall is now also the propeller shaft steady bearing mounting. A circular plywood doubler panel, with recessed studs mounted through it, has been glued on to the tank wall and glassed into place. A 4mm aluminium plate has been made and drilled with 12mm holes to mount on the 8mm studs. This will allow some adjustment to properly centre the bearing. Some oversized washers have been made to secure the plate to the tank end wall.

The propeller shaft runs through the middle of the fresh water tank enclosed in a 90mm PVC pipe. To ensure that any water or condensation inside the pipe can get away, a drain has been cut in the doubler panel and the resulting slot lined with a length of 25mm PVC conduit pipe cut lengthways.

The fresh water tank is divided into compartments with two fore and aft baffles. This is to stop the contents of the tank surging from side to side, properly called Free Surface Effect, which can create stability problems. Each of the compartments created within the tank need to be accessible for cleaning and probably resealing eventually and the original plan was to use plastic threaded deck plates, but given that the tank top is also the floor of the bedroom / passage and is to be carpeted, there's a problem. None of the deck plates I could find would lay flush with the tank top and so the carpeted floor would not be flat. Not good!

The solution is to have a separate tank top below the floor. Specifically, create a new tank top 40mm below the floor and install the deck plates in the normal way and then have the carpeted floor as planned at the proper level that can be lifted out when required. The tank top can now be created in exactly the same way as the top of the black tank was made. It is a bit tedious, but for all that, quite straightforward.

A set of moulds have been made and fitted around the tank walls and a fillet of epoxy applied underneath. The whole inside of the tank will then be glassed and covered with four coats of raw epoxy and two coats of Interseal epoxy tank lining paint. When the moulds are removed, a "ledge" has been created all around the tank ready to take and seal the top. Once installed in a thick bed of epoxy this approach produces the same result as if the tank top were filleted, glassed and sealed into place in the normal way except that, of course, that's not possible because you would have to be physically inside the tank to achieve that. The fresh water tank is still a "work in progress" for the moment, but the result will be very satisfactory.

Eight 8" Beckson screw out deck plates were ordered via the Internet today. These are available locally from a prominent local supplier, but the asking prices are simply outrageous. The plates are advertised at $49.95 each whilst the same thing is available direct from the US from more than one supplier, for less than $20, including postage. Retailers like Gerry Harvey complain that overseas companies have an unfair advantage because they don't have the pay GST and if the difference in pricing was only 10% then perhaps I'd agree with him, but the mark up here is around 400%, which is just outright robbery.

I first put a floor around the bed area for safety's sake some three years ago now and that was done by gluing a set of ledges around the area upon which the floor was to rest. Now of course, with the new plan, these ledges were no longer in the right place and I had no option but remove them. So it was with some annoyance that I attacked the offending parts, built with such care, with chisel and mallet and cut them out. The only upside was that it served to prove how tough the epoxy was, especially after having cured for a couple of years. Nowhere did the chisel split the timber along the glue lines! The plywood split along its timber laminations and was later cleaned up with the sander. Nowhere did the epoxy fail, which is very comforting......

As a complete aside, those long term readers of this site will recall that Rhapsody was originally going to be electrically powered via batteries being charged by solar panels. As an example of how far electric vehicles and particularly battery technology has come, I was delighted this week to be able to try out an all electric car. This was a Nissan Leaf. It's not a hybrid; it's charged overnight and then runs entirely on batteries for up to 150Km before needing to be charged again. It has a very sophisticated regenerative breaking system; touch the brakes and the "ammeter" (for want of a better term) shows up to a 30Kw charge going in to the batteries. Coming down a steep hill actually has the "fuel" gauge going up, which is very strange! The other stunning oddity is that there is no noise; sitting at traffic lights especially, the vehicle is completely silent. You have to look at a very futuristic dashboard that would have pleased Captain James T. Kirk, to know that the vehicle is actually "On" . A very interesting experience all around.

3/5/2013 A few weeks ago I went to a Swap Meet and there I purchased two driving lights from a 2006 Subaru Outback SUV. These mount low in the sides of the bumper where it sweeps back at a steep angle, with the lights still pointing forwards (obviously!). The beams are wide and flat and I thought they would make interesting cruising lights for the front of the boat. They are oval, 155mm by 135mm, and carry a 55W globe, which could easily be replaced with an XID system.

I decided that mounting the lights high on the front of the hull where the anchor hawsehole would go, if I were going to have one, would look pretty good. The lights will point out from the hull at about 45°, which is just what you need for navigating at night. If you can see one bank, preferably on the starboard side, you can navigate the river reasonably well.

The lights are oval, as mentioned above, but more than that, the lenses are domed, which makes them very hard to draw around for making a suitable pattern for a mounting hole. Never mind, draw an ellipse 155x135 you say! No problem, now how did that High School geometry lesson go again, something about two pins and a bit of string? What would we do without Google? A quick brush up on the theory of axes and foci and we have a lovely ellipse drawn ready to be transferred to the hull for cutting out. Easy!

In reality, I'm not certain how effective the lights will be and I don't plan to cruise at night much anyway, but they'll add to the good looks, which is all the more "sizzle" on the "sausage" , which is no bad thing. I am planning to have driving lights on the roof of the Raised Deck, above the helm position as well, but more of that later.

Today has seen the first chamber of the fresh water tank fully glassed. The two baffles made earlier in the week are now finished and all cleaned up ready to be installed. I decided that it was easier to glass the inside of the wooden tank before installing the baffles and before re-installing the newly trimmed PVC propeller shaft pipe, rather than after; we'll see.....

10/5/2013 I noted above, as I have at the beginning of each chapter of this missive, that Rhapsody's hull was started in July 2008. This is true because that's when the first mould was cut out. However, the date the first component of the actual hull (the foremost panel of the keel), was cut out was in the week ending 30/10/2008, according to the dates on the photographs. It looks as though the stem post was being laminated in the same week too.

Why is this important? Well it's not really, except that during a rather whimsical discussion the other day we fell to wondering if a boat has a Star Sign. If we accept that the birth date of a boat is the day the "keel is laid", or in this case, the first real component of the vessel was created, then Rhapsody's birth sign is Scorpio. This of course leads us back to Google to check the personality characteristics attributed to those born under the sign of Scorpio.

Scorpio is a Water sign appropriately enough, and apparently they have an adventuresome spirit and love to travel; all of which sounds good. Although I am being fairly selective here. One site claims that Scorpios are "the least demanding and most fun friends on earth", which is a nice sentiment, although it's a pity about the grammar. Famous Scorpios include Christopher Columbus and Bill Gates, not to mention my Mum......

A boat that has every possible convenience might well be described has having everything "including the kitchen sink" . Well, this week saw another step towards that lofty goal with the dry fitting of the kitchen sink! (Few other conveniences still required yet, but we'll get there)! A laminated beam was made up to sit portside between the aft wall of the galley and the edge of the fridge locker at a height of 860mm from the floor. This will, in due course, support the inboard edge of a 40mm, solid red gum bench top. The bench top is 1700mm long, which divides nicely into 4 cupboards or drawer sets 425mm wide.

The cupboard sides will be vertical on their inboard edge of course, ready for doors or drawer fronts, but they will be cut into the hull shape at the back and epoxied in place. The cupboard sides will, in effect, become structural frames supporting the hull, which will add significant strength to the bow of the boat. The first cupboard side panel was cut out this week and is the one which forms one side of the stove compartment. It is epoxied in place and that now defines the length of the starboard bench top support beam, which will be made up next. It looks like it will be about 850mm long which is just about right for two cupboard doors of 425mm, which means the port and starboard cupboard doors will all match - outstanding! I knew that...

I mentioned last week that the fresh water tank baffles were ready to go in. This turned out to be not quite true. Tank baffles are required to stop the contents from "sloshing" around with the movement of the boat. However, water still has to be able to move from one compartment to another in a controlled fashion and holes are provided at the bottom of each baffle to facilitate this movement. Also, if the tank has a sealed top, then holes are required at the top of each baffle as well to ensure that air is not trapped in a compartment, otherwise the tank cannot be filled. I managed to make all the necessary air holes in the black tank and forward ballast tanks, but for some reason forgot all about them for the fresh water tank. The two baffles being made on the bench have now got air holes and have been installed in the boat, but that leaves five more holes to cut in place. Not the easiest way of doing it, Hmmm.....

The glass lining for the fresh water tank has also been completed this week and another lesson learned. If you're cutting large pieces of double bias glass cloth, cut the longest edge in the direction of the supporting stitching. Cutting across the bias makes the cloth lose any dimensional stability, once it's wetted with glue, and is almost impossible to fit. Cut the right way and it's a five minute job.

I realised this week that the plan for having the top of the fresh water tank separate and 40mm below the cabin floor, discussed above, has another rather obscure ramification. Specifically, that the since the tank is now less deep, I need a different depth electric gauge sender. Lady Luck must have been smiling, because I hadn't actually got around to ordering the gauge sender yet, so this week I was able to order the right thing. The tank is now only 380mm deep and although this reduces its capacity somewhat, since the end wall was extended to install the propeller shaft steady bearing, the capacity was increased significantly and should end up around 300 litres. Ample.

I wear spectacles all the time, which provide some incidental protection from dust and flying debris. However, this week I managed to get a speck of epoxy in my eye. This became very sore and red. Worse still, the pupil ended up a different size to the other eye and made exposure to bright light excruciating. Three days later all seems to be well, but it's a salutary reminder to take care.

27/05/2013 They say that "A bad workman always blames his tools" . True, but in this case I'm blaming a new computer and Microsoft's gift to the world, Windows 8. It's not that it's bad exactly, it's just that it's different and nothing is where it used to be. Simple jobs are now hard and therefore time consuming, because I have to keep stopping and reading the instructions. The reading of the instructions of course, usually comes after a significant period of blundering around and emitting expletives at high volume, looking for the simple solution that you know it will be - once you know what it is! It's just as well I don't have a cat......

You will have noticed already however, that the advent of a new computer hasn't improved the "literary style" , if that's what it could be called, of your humble author. Pity really....

4/6/2013 Well, Windows 8 and I have reached an uneasy peace. I have found most functions and although, like most, I'm resistant to change on principle, it does seem to work reasonably well.

I am gratified however, that Windows 8.1 is promised for next week.

The threaded inspection plates for the tops of the fresh and ballast water tanks ordered from the US failed to arrive after a month and that's not good. I contacted the supplier and after a worrying run-around, they are finally on their way. They are still a great price compared with the same item in Australia, which is annoying.

21/06/2103 OK, another break in production and another excuse. This time, I've been off playing paddle steamers again. A ten day river cruise slowed the building of Rhapsody once again, but was great fun.

Some progress on a day here and a day there basis. The deck plates have finally arrived after a full on fight with FedEx about whether they could deliver to a Post Office. They finally believed me, but it took another two weeks of grumpy emails to have them do what I asked in the first place. Don't deal with FedEx if you can avoid it. The Americans can make good gear, but their postal service isn't worth a pinch compared with the Chinese.

Anyway, the arrival of the deck plates finally removed my last remaining excuse for not finishing the mounting ledges for the lids of the fresh water tank. Except for the fact that making epoxy fillets upside down with a lead lamp and a mirror is a really unpleasant task. Still, it's done now, and the lids are made as well, complete with big hole for the deck plate in each. Now the hole in each of the five tank lids has to be lined with epoxy and then all glassed on both sides. Straightforward stuff.

The propeller shaft passes through the middle of the fresh water tank in a 90mm PVC tube. Epoxy doesn't stick to PVC so the tube has been wrapped in glass & epoxy first. This will ensure that it doesn't leak and make it possible to glass the tube in securely. It's a pity that I drilled all the holes for the PVC pipe as a tight fit because now, with the glass around it, it won't go through the holes. Half an hour with an air grinder should fix it.

I ordered a Wema level gauge sender via the Internet for the fresh water tank and it too has turned in the "nick of time" , ready to be fitted. I described the electronics required to drive an LED "VU" style meter showing the tank level in excruciating detail under the heading of the black water tank sender and it's more of the same. I won't bore you with it again; how kind...

The fresh water tank will also have "full" and "empty" float switches fitted. The "full" switch will simply operate a buzzer so that you know when to stop filling the tank and the "empty" switch will light a lamp on the dashboard.

I also thought it would be useful to have a pair of voltmeters in the main cabin to show the state of the House and Engine batteries at a glance. So, back to the trusty Internet to purchase a couple of digital meters. It turns out that these meters need an independent power supply, which is a real nuisance. More specifically, they cannot be powered by the supply that they are monitoring. After a few minutes thought I realised that their current draw is so low that they can be powered by a 9v battery which will probably last for years. Particularly a fire alarm battery which is guaranteed for ten years. Fire Alarms? Hmm that reminds me, should think about that at some point too.

The cabinet carcass required to mount the stove in the galley is mostly complete. The only real challenge is that straight edges have to be straight and right angles have to just that, for the stove to sit properly. Even the dimensions have to be right; such accuracy is a bit of a challenge of course!!! Still, it seems to have worked out well in the end.

The bench top is very deep behind the stove because of the shape of the hull and Moose suggested that the space could be made into a storage area for a number of tall canisters. They might contain food items such as spaghetti or rice and also cooking utensils, being within easy reach of the stove. The storage area has been made and glued in and has a removable bottom panel for cleaning and for access to the area behind the stove. The bottom panel under the stove is also removable for the same reason.

As we approach the end of June 2013, I realise that I have been occupying the boat shed for five years. It is rather longer than I had anticipated, but as I have said before, the "building" is the hobby as much as the "using" will be in the future. In any case, once the boat is finished, what will I do with myself; I know, build another one? Hmm....

05/07/2013 Someone came into the shed yesterday and complained that I had not updated this journal lately and that I should "hop to it" .

There are two nice things about receiving such remonstrations. The first is that someone, other than me, is actually reading all this stuff and second, that they are interested enough to want more. Ok, here's more...

Jobs for this week have been to do with the fresh water tank. Those of you who have read of my tortuous battle with the black water tank will not be surprised that this is a similarly time consuming job, since the construction method is the same. There is one small difference in that I'm using screw in plastic deck plates as inspection hatches rather than wooden hatches secured with at least five zillion bolts. (Interesting that the Spell Checker doesn't mind 'zillion', which is odd since it's not a real word. What about 'gazillion' I wonder - nope, that's OK too. Weird!) Anyway, the plastic plates are much easier, but then it's less of a disaster if one of them fails and leaks because this is fresh water rather than, well, the stuff in the black tank...

All the connection fittings to the tank have to be isolated from the plywood from which the tank is made, by mounting them in plugs of epoxy. So for each fitting, an oversized hole is drilled and then covered on one side with a non-stick plastic covered piece of scrap timber and the hole filled with thickened epoxy. When it has set, a clearance hole for the fitting is drilled in the middle of the epoxy plug, which allows it to pass through the plywood without having the edge grain of the plywood exposed to water through seepage around the fitting. All of which is a bit tedious, but it's the price you pay for making a water tank out of plywood.

It turns out that there are actually quite a number of fittings required. I want to be able to take on fresh water from either side of the vessel, so there are two 38mm filler pipes. I have also made provision for a "tank full" float switch, to sound a buzzer during the filling operation indicating that the tank is full. Any tank has to have an air and it has since occurred to me that if the breather fitting were placed in the hull immediately below the filling point, it would overflow when the tank is full and the buzzer would be unnecessary. Whether I get around to actually connecting up the "full" switch remains to be seen. Of course, since I'mproviding a filler on each side of the vessel, then I need a breather on each side too.

There is a "tank empty" float switch and a Wema level gauge sender installed as well, so there should be no excuse for not knowing the level of water in the fresh tank at all times. Oh, and most important of all is the fitting that allows one to take water out of the tank to the galley to make a decent cup of tea and to the hand basin in the bathroom to brush your teeth. And, if you haven't been counting, that's eight connections!

With the fittings accommodated as mentioned above, the fresh tank is ready for sealing. It has been lined with fibre glass and is ready for four coats of raw epoxy before the final two sealing coats of epoxy tank lining paint, which is certified for use with drinking water. The 90mm pipe through the centre for the propeller shaft will be fitted after the coats of epoxy simply for convenience. The ledges around the top of the tank to support the tank tops are completed as well. Now to make the tank tops.

The tank is divided into five baffled compartments and each has a lid. The lids have all been cut and dry fitted and have had their deck plates fitted in an epoxy lined oversize hole as described above. (Another five holes)! They have been glassed both sides with 200gsm cloth and have received their first sealer coat of raw epoxy; three more coats before the two coats of paint! A next week job.

The galley has been receiving some attention as well. The cupboard carcass for the gas stove is complete as is the storage area behind the stove. The stove has been set away from the bulkhead to its right by about 200mm to allow space for the handles of saucepans on the stove to be turned right around if necessary. This has necessarily created a space to the right of the stove under the bench as well, which I think would make an ideal spot for hanging damp tea towels. My partner has a similar space in her kitchen and it seems to work well. (I know this because being a thoroughly modern bloke, I usually dry the dishes - I know my place...). The other items stored in this area on their own little shelf are the essential rolls of Glad Wrap and Alfoil; very handy! So not being proud, and blatantly stealing ideas from all possible sources, Rhapsody shall have that convenience too. It'll be handy when I get to dry the dishes too...

The stove is on the Starboard side of the galley and the remaining area forward of the stove will be divided into two sections 425mm wide to form kitchen cupboards and drawers. Accordingly, a divider has been made to separate the two areas, which will also be the mountings for the cupboard doors and drawer runners. The divider goes back to the inside of the hull like a small bulkhead and provides significant reinforcement to the shape of the hull. The forward space will be a cupboard and as with most kitchen cupboards it will have a single horizontal shelf. Being a boat of course, the shelf is a really odd shape. It tapers with the narrowing of the hull toward the bow and extends right down the side of the fridge area forming a long triangle. Never mind, all space is useful for something, regardless of how odd the shape is. The horizontal shelf and vertical divider are both made and the divider is installed. Looks a bit like a Galley - scary... Now for the Port side.

In Australia, we are in the depths of winter at present and it has actually been a bit chilly some mornings. However, the Winter Solstice has come and gone, so we are now in the long run back up to summer. A couple of years ago I was storing a caravan for a friend and occasionally stayed overnight at the boat shed site. This gave me an earlier start, a later finish and saved me a 170km drive each day. It has been suggested several times that I could now stay in the boat inside the shed because the bedframe is built and is quite usable and other facilities are all available. The only reason for not doing so thus far has been dust. The workshop is a very dusty place and any bedding would soon be unusable. However, last week I saw an advert for a Swag, which of course is like a little tent with flaps to seal all of its entrances and exits. So, I'mnow the proud owner of a swag and may actually spend a night or two on board. I'll let you know how it goes!!

Of course, one thing leads to another as we know, so if I'mgoing to stay on board (albeit inside the shed) then a TV would be nice. I bought a 24" unit with an internal DVD player for the boat some time back and have had its proposed position marked on the galley bulkhead, on the opposite side to the stove, for a while. Now seems as good a time as any to mount it properly, so I've made up a doubler for that part of the bulkhead, to distribute the weight of the TV on its swing out bracket, and it's now ready for installation. The doubler will also provide some stiffening for the bulkhead, which is no bad thing.

The galley side of the bulkhead, alongside the stove, is going to be covered in a sheet of Formica, although I'mstill investigating colours, patterns and prices. I had thought that a sheet of "brushed stainless steel" look Laminex would be tough, bright, easy to clean and galley-like, but it turns out that that is the most expensive finish they make (naturally!) at nearly $500 per sheet. The cost soon mounts up because I had planned to have matching "splash backs" behind the bench tops on each side of the galley and that's two sheets at least. Seems hard to justify...

Whilst visiting the Formica showrooms for a product suitable for the galley, I have also been looking at potential wall linings for the bathroom and shower. Although, I'mtrying not think about the bathroom too much at present, because it's just a bit daunting. I'mafraid it may need a whole new section of this document to itself! Still, "one war at a time" ...

12/07/2013 More of the same this week. The fresh water tank has all its connections installed and its four coats of raw epoxy applied, as have the lids. Now for two coats of Interseal 670 to finish sealing the tank and have it ready for drinking water. Then the tank can be assembled and the lids glued into place.

I went to Paint Supplies today to ask for more Interseal 670 only to hear the response 'Ah! We don't keep that anymore Mate', which was not what I wanted to hear. However, they are very helpful folk and let me have a scratch around in the corners of their warehouse, where I managed to find two old tins of the necessary sealer. Eureka! Who cares if the tins are a bit dented and slightly rusty and the contents tinted to a delicate shade of Canary Yellow; they'll do!

Once the tank is finished, the real floor, which sits 40mm above the tank lids, can be cut and installed. There is a chipboard floor in place at present so at least there's a useful template to use. Once that's done, the bathroom door frames can be completed and then the roof beams finished off, which is what started this excursion into doing the fresh water tank in the first place. One thing always leads to another......

I mentioned earlier that I had purchased a swag in order to be able to camp on board the boat and with that in mind have started cleaning all the dust and rubbish out of the bedroom area at the back of the hull. It's astonishing what has collected there over what is now quite a long time, since that part of the boat was built. Sanding dust, wood chips from cutting joints for the roof beams, bits of fibreglass and packing pieces, all sorts of boat building detritus. Even the generations of spiders that have died of old age. Vacuuming under the bed frame reminded me that I had held some vague concerns about the strength of hog timber that sits immediately above the propeller.

Most boats squat down at the stern when underway. The Atkin's tunnel stern is designed to work quite differently in that its shape produces lift at the stern to reduce the depth of water required to float the boat. However, that implies that the area of hull at the top of the tunnel has to be strong enough to support and lift the weight of the boat. Also, there is only about 50mm between the tip of the propeller blades and the underside of the hull, which is perhaps less than ideal to avoid a phenomenon called hydrostatic shock. As each rotating blade passes close to the hull, it essentially "throws" a lump of water at the underside of the boat, which can cause a hammering effect. Not good!

The hog piece down the centre of the tunnel, above the propeller, is 25mm thick and the hull to which it is attached at that point, consists of two layers of 10mm ply. It has three layers of 425 gsm fibreglass outside and another three layers inside. It is supported across the hull by two frames which are part of the bed. Whilst this sounds significant, why not over engineer if you can? (I have everywhere else I'mtold J)! So, I've made up a fore and aft panel 400mm long and 37mm thick to fill in one of the spaces in the bed frame and provide some extra support for the hog, together with a quarter knee shaped piece to sit under the steering quadrant. There are no more areas of the hog that can be reached, so I'msatisfied that it's the best that can be done. It really is pretty massive I suppose; good!

Last week I started building the mountings for the TV; all part of the preparations for camping on board you will recall. The doubler panel for the galley / saloon bulkhead is finished and installed and has had six 6mm bolts glued in to act as studs for the TV swing arm. Once the remainder of the cabinet work around the TV is complete it should be quite solid.

The area of bulkhead above the TV, which is to be a tiny breakfast bar, cum servery hatch, has finally been cut away to show its final shape, together with the surplus piece of roof beam above the steps that go down to the galley. I placed a piece of board over the roof this week to try and get an impression of what the galley will be like with its roof on, although it's pretty hard without the windows cut out! I have a 12 volt range hood to go over the stove and it's also time to investigate how and where exactly, that should be mounted.

I mentioned last week that I had been looking for Formica / Laminex products to line the galley bulkheads and splashbacks. Today, I discovered an Italian brand of panel called Abet Laminati and another called FormPlac from South America, both of which have a better range of finishes and colours and are significantly cheaper. Sounds like the way to go!

I have just realised that it is the middle of July and so it is the anniversary of the start of the building of "Rhapsody In Glue" . It was July 2008 that the first moulds were cut in order to start building the hull. Although, that was not really the start of the project, since there was at least a year of design work before that! However, it's a long period to be absorbed by a single project, but wouldn't have it any other way.

06/08/2013 I see that it has been a month since my last confes... err sorry, blog...

Actually, I've been quite busy. Glassing of the fresh tank was finished during the month and the 90mm PVC tube through the middle of the tank that carries the propeller shaft was installed. It had been separately glassed all over earlier because epoxy doesn't stick to PVC and so the idea is to seal to what has become its fibre glass shell instead of the PVC directly.

The fresh water tank then had its two coats of canary yellow Interseal 670 applied and very dashing it looks! The areas of the hull where the fittings come out have had to be made ready with glass and paint, which should have been done ages ago, but certainly now since access will be difficult once the fittings are installed. The lids are all finished as well and are ready to be installed once the fittings are in. I will install them all at the same time as the inspection hatches in the lids because a tube of SikaFlex only lasts just so long once opened I gather.

(Incidentally - after 20 years or more of development, you'd think that Microsoft could fix Word? NO, if you press Ctrl + Shift + 0 or something, by mistake it freezes the system and you lose everything typed since you last "Save" - very aggravating!!!!! As always - save often!)

The steps that go down from the saloon to the bedroom and bathroom were built some years back and their positioning at the time was somewhat arbitrary. They were placed halfway along the passage, just to be symmetrical. Now of course, I realise that they were in the wrong place; actually I have guessed that for some time, but the idea of ripping out something that was built so long ago and of which I was quite proud at the time, having never built steps before, was dispiriting. The reason their placement turned out to be wrong, oddly enough, is to do with the roof beam spacing and the headroom over the steps that is required to ensure you (or me, more to the point) don't bump our heads going up and down the steps. When the steps were built of course, the roof beams were just some hazy part of the project to be considered in the distant future. Well, that future is here.

It turns out that it would be much more convenient if the steps were 200mm further forward. Firstly, the necessary rise in the roof line would start on the same roof beam that holds the bathroom door frame rather than in the middle of a space where there is no roof beam to hold it, secondly the sundeck helm position would be much, much easier to build in its intended position over the top of the passage and lastly, the sundeck would be 200mm longer.

So, the steps had to be moved and when I could think of no good reason to delay any longer, I was quite surprised how little time it really took. The stairs themselves were made to be removed as a unit anyway, to access the gearbox underneath, so it was only their supporting battens on the walls that had to be chiselled off, remade and glued in. It only took about four hours in the end!

I have purchased a sheet of Laminex / Formica style wall lining panel from South America in a brushed stainless steel finish for the galley bulkhead and splashbacks. It is half the price of Laminex and comes from Designer Surfaces in Port Road, Woodville. Very helpful people and great to deal with. Highly recommended!

The last of the cupboard sides has been made and installed in the galley and all the seams glassed. The sides of the fridge area also had their seams glassed, finally. There are some bits of the supports for the bench tops to be finished, together with a shelf right around the sheer beam, and the whole galley will be ready for painting. I would like to install the fridge too; I'msick of it in my carport and it would make camping aboard just that little bit more comfortable.

There are two hanging knees to go in the galley to support the coach house sides and these have been made up from three thicknesses of ply. They will be finished with some thin laminated Meranti and Hoop Pine much like the ones in the bedroom. I have since realised that they would be better providing the dual function of supporting the shelf I want to put all around the sheer line. The shelf is for strength and convenience of course, but also to hide the sheer rail timber, which would be hard to finish elegantly otherwise. It's interesting that the "how things will be finished" question comes up more and more now because the components being built now will be visible in the finished vessel. Good - I think...

I have always planned to have steps leading down from the saloon level to the galley level. The top of the black tank forms the bottom step, which is actually what determined the tank's final depth, which is a reminder of how seemingly disparate things are actually co-dependent! Anyway, the sides or perhaps the cheeks of the stairwell were made and installed. They are grooved on the outside so that they can be stained and match the rest of the boat, and cut to a really odd shape at the bottom to ensure that the inspection covers on the black tank can still be removed when necessary and still support the step treads. The inboard cheek is also the end panel of the TV cupboard and so extends right up to the breakfast bar level. Since this has to be self-supporting and provide stability for the TV mountings it was reinforced inside with a piece of 40x50 Hoop Pine. The result is very strong and stable, which is nice. The front edge of the inboard cheek was finished with another Hoop Pine moulding routed up with a rebate for the edge of the plywood and a rounded edge for the corner. It also has a rebate on the back to serve as a runner for a door or cover of some sort, perhaps like a roll top desk, which will hide the TV when not in use. Now of course, the TV can be installed too.

Originally, I had intended the steps to be removable as a set to allow access underneath. With a bit of thought however, it became clear that the only thing to which one might need access was the black tank level sender, which would need a clear 450mm above it before it could be removed. I realised that if I made the steps a fixture and put a removable hatch in the middle tread, this requirement would be met and the whole thing become much simpler. This has been finished and installed.

Since the steps had now become a fixture instead of removable, that prompted another idea. The area behind the steps, which is under the saloon floor, is out of sight and really just for storage, so it seemed possible that it could be used for something more specific. Accordingly, I cut some 90mm holes in the two upright stair risers to make them into a wine rack - built right into the steps! The lower riser has six holes and the upper one has four. The holes are lined with lengths of 90mm PVC tube supported at the rear at a slight down angle, which will hold ten bottles of wine altogether (never mind what's in the fridge). Just the thing a boat with everything should have......

A few of my less charitable visitors to the shed have noted that once the boat is finished and in the water, I might find I have a significant number of new "friends" . None of whom would be forward enough to actually invite themselves on board of course, particularly for an overnight stay, but the expectation would be there nonetheless. They have been proven wrong already! Someone has already suggested, very diplomatically, that once the boat is finished he could come along for a ride and of course there'd be room to stay overnight wouldn't there? The statement was made so politely and entirely without guile, but with such confidence it was hard not to smile; he's nine years old...

2/9/2013 First working day of Spring - lovely day, 27°, and it doesn't get much better than that! It was hard to do any work, it seemed a better idea to linger over a cup of tea and watch the cows in the paddock across the road.

16/9/2013 Now, come on, be serious.

The fresh water tank is finished. (There's that "F" word again. A rare thing I know, but...) The inspection hatches, which are actually 8" deck plates are screwed in place and sealed with Sikaflex polyurethane adhesive sealer, as are both sets of filler and breather connections. The fresh water take-off, the level gauge sender and tank empty float switch are also installed. I originally allowed for a float switch to indicate when the tank is full as well, thinking that this would be useful during filling. It has since occurred to me that if I have the two breather pipes leading to skin fittings in the hull just below either fill points, it will be obvious when the tank is full because water will be overflowing from the breather pipes. This makes the float switch redundant, but I have fitted it anyway since it fills up the lovely cast epoxy hole I made for it. I won't actually connect the switch and that obviates another problem in that you would have to have been able to turn any full alarm off, so that it doesn't keep sounding after you have finished filling the tank and haven't used any of the contents as yet. Then you forget to turn it back on and it's useless anyway.

The take-off outlet was set high in the wall of the tank on the basis that the pump can lift the water out, but if there's a problem with the plumbing, the water can't run out into the bilges by gravity. It did mean glassing a pick-up fitting into the bottom of the tank and having a connecting hose inside the tank, of course.

The fresh water tank is now all painted inside and out and fully sealed ready for the false floor to be installed over it. Then I can get back to the bathroom door frames, which is what triggered this two month descent into making another plywood tank.

There is still the aft water ballast tank to go and that has the stern tube passing through its middle. That's no problem except that to install the stern tube I need the engine in place to line it all up and the engine isn't ready. The lining up process needs the propeller shaft in place as well and there's another unlikely problem. To install the propeller shaft, because of its length, I have to open the other door of the shed, which hasn't been used for several years. The foundations have dropped slightly over time and of course, the sliding door won't open. So, as I have often discovered with this project, one thing leads to another in the most unlikely of ways. In this instance, before I can build the aft ballast tank I have to fix the shed door. Hmm...

Two hanging knees have been made for the galley walls that support the coach house sides at their mid-point. They consist of three thicknesses of 12mm ply glued together not because they need to be quite that strong, but they need to match the size of the roof beams in terms of look and feel. To accentuate that effect I have laminated their outer edges with alternating Meranti/Hoop Pine as for the roof beams and the hanging knees in the bedroom. Now they look pretty and they all match.

The galley cupboards have their middle shelves made and installed and the port side actually has a chipboard bench top cut to size complete with cut-out for the sink unit. I will use it as the template to make the real Red Gum bench top in due course. A template for the starboard side is next on the list.

Most of the galley internal fit-out has been filleted and glassed and has now been cleaned up ready for painting. Wood preservative is being applied progressively as is the white polyurethane Texture Coat on all the other surfaces. I have also painted the inside of the anchor locker through the hatch behind the fridge location. It was a very cramped and awkward job made worse by the occasional need to breathe. A fan placed on the forepeak blowing into the anchor locker seemed to make it better, I didn't feel quite as giddy anyway and I imagine that the dobs of paint matting my hair will grow out eventually. Lots more painting to do now - yippee. My least favourite job......

2/10/2013 Having painted as much of the inside of the anchor locker as I could reach through the hatch behind the fridge, it seemed sensible to paint the rest of it while I was at it. The upper area can only be reached from the forepeak, so out with a ladder and make like a monkey, climbing all over the hull to paint the remainder. Of course, before any painting can be done, the area has to be cleaned up, sanding off glue dags etc. etc. Of course, any sensible person would have finished the sanding of the upper parts before painting the lower parts being fully aware the dust and other excrescences fall downward, but not your hapless boat builder. Having cleaned up and painted the top half of the anchor locker, it's back out with the vacuum cleaner to clean up the bottom again before the second coat can be applied to the whole area.

And, whilst climbing all over the forepeak it seemed like a good time to finish and paint the gas bottle locker too. The bottom of this locker is sloped to persuade any leaked gas to leave by the vents provided. However, to make the gas bottles stand vertically on the sloped floor, I had made a special insert with an opposite slope. Finding it turned out to be like an archaeological dig, wading through some years'worth of timber bits and pieces made over time to find the right one. I also remembered making some metal protective panels (aluminium not steel - no sparks!) on which the gas bottles could stand to protect the paintwork; they were similarly time consuming to find, but all the parts are reunited and painted. I could perhaps use the "F" word again, but they're not really Finished because I still have to make a forepeak hatch cover, so it would be bit premature just yet.

The temporary bench top for the starboard side of the galley has been made and will serve as a pattern for the real thing in due course, but in the meantime it's actually quite usable. It feels quite civilised to have a stable and level place to put down a tool or cup of tea whilst considering the next step.

A major job that has been looming despite my best attempts to ignore it, is the fitting of the Laminex (OK, it's not actually Laminex brand, it's from South America and a quarter of the price) to the galley walls. I have a sheet of brushed stainless steel Laminex that is 3550 long and a pig to handle. It has been on the boat's roof as the only place big enough to keep it out flat and I finally could put it off no longer.

I thought I would tackle the bulkhead immediately adjacent to the galley sink first. It is the smallest and can be covered in a single piece. So, out with the trusty Joggle Stick (again) and tally up the shape on a Tally Board and transfer that to the Laminex allowing plenty of "green" for adjustments. Cutting Laminex without it cracking or splitting is a problem. Professional furniture houses have circular saws with a scriber device attached to score the surface before cutting to ensure a clean edge. I tried a circular saw, jigsaw, bandsaw, even a scoring tool and a Stanley knife. All would cut the stuff, but each had problems of its own. In the end I used a router, either freehand or with a fence where possible, and a pair of metal sheers. The result was quite respectable.

The contact adhesive used with Laminex is very good stuff. Its only downside is that it grabs on contact (no really?) and if you're in the wrong place, you're stuck with it - so to speak. There's no adjusting the fit once the surfaces have touched. Scary stuff. So, lots of dry fitting is good insurance. Not only to make sure that the panel fits, but to ensure that you know what your approach angle will be so that the glue doesn't grab in the wrong place on the way in. You can use a piece of scrap between the Laminex and the glue, removing it progressively, if that helps.

The port side galley wall went in without a problem in the end and looks very handsome. The starboard side, which fits beside the stove covers an area from floor to ceiling and so is a much bigger area; so much so that it had to be made in two parts with a butt join in the middle. Still, with the practice from the port side, it went in very well. The butt join isn't up to professional standards perhaps, but I am really pleased with it. A timber trim piece might find its way there at some stage, but maybe not.

The sheer rails go through the galley about 300mm above the bench tops. I had decided to put shelves along the top edges of the sheer rails as much to hide the structural woodwork as to provide more storage. I have cut the shelves about 130mm wide and fitted them. They will also provide some additional stiffening for the sides of the bow, although even I think that that's bordering overkill! The shelves will have darker timber fiddle edge added in due course to stop items falling off (it is a boat after all), but remembering that another challenge awaits - because the sheer rails slope down toward the stern, so does the shelf - tricky.

11/10/2013 The sheer line shelves in the galley have been installed, at least, they have been glued in place. Then came some fine filleting work to make them look tidy and finish them off. They look very handsome and once the "fiddle" edges are added later, they will look great.

In another of those "one thing leads to another" or more properly, "one thing depends upon the completion of another" situations, I have been glassing the engine room. It's not really a room of course, that's far too grand a term, but it's as good a description for a 1x1x1 metre enclosure under the floor where the engine will live. The reason the engine room needs finishing next is because I need to install the engine. I need to install the engine so that I can align and properly install the propeller shaft and the stern tube. I need these items in place so that I can build the aft ballast tank through which the propeller shaft passes. I need the aft ballast tank completed in order to have the whole under bed area finished and then I can spread out my swag and camp in the boat to save travelling time. Easy!

I have mentioned before that one of the apparently unconnected problems with fitting the propeller shaft is that the right hand shed door won't open. What's that got to do with anything you may say. Well, because the propeller shaft is 3.2m long it can only be fitted into the stern tube with the door open and because that door hasn't been used for five years or so and the foundations have dropped, it's jammed. So, the solution is to fix the door? Well yes and no. Another plan is to cut a hole in the steel panel of the door just big enough for the propeller shaft to fit through. With the owner's permission that's what has been done.

Throwing a strong light beam from the position of the rear engine mounts, through the steady bearing, through the tube down the middle of the fresh water tank, through the aft ballast tank baffles and finally through the stern tube hole in the stern post highlighted the exact spot on the garage door where the solution lay. Five minutes with a hole-saw and a 75mm hole in just that spot allows access for the propeller shaft to be installed in the boat from outside the shed. When we are finished, we'll screw a piece of steel sheet over the hole and no one will ever know.

Since I'mglassing in the engine room, it seems like a good idea to do the adjacent main fuel tank locker as well, since many of the glass sheets are the same size and they are very close by. Both these areas will have a smooth epoxy finish to simplify spotting leaks and Bilge Blowers (that are really suckers of course) in order to remove any petrol fumes - hopefully. An electronic petrol/LPG sniffer will be installed in the bottom of the engine room as well.

Along with the general theme of finishing the under bed area I have started to install the rudder gear. The rudder stock was made by Phillip Mathews at C. E. & A. and included a thrust washer to sit under the quadrant to carry the weight of the rudder in a downward direction. It became clear sometime back that I would need a washer for the upward direction too, to stop the welded seam at the joint of the shaft jamming in the bottom of the stock. Phillip made the necessary washer for me, but I've had to modify it a bit. It needed a chamfered edge to clear the welding bead and then it was too thick overall to allow the key to fit into the keyway, so had to be reduced from 15mm to 8mm. I have a lathe in the shed so it was not too much of a problem. It may still be a problem when the rudder itself is fitted because the clearances may be wrong - we'll see.

However, the rudder stock is fitted, as is the quadrant and it all seems to work really well. The bearing surfaces have been covered in marine grease and anywhere dissimilar metals touch, such as aluminium and stainless steel, a liberal coating of Duralac (barium chromate), has been applied to stop electrolysis and corrosion.

The removable timber piece over the top of the quadrant has been remade now the final position of the quadrant is known. This is to support a printed circuit board carrying a set of magnetic sensors (Hall Effect Diodes), to drive the two LED rudder position indicator displays. I have yet to make the electronics, but it's another job for a wet evening when there's nothing on the TV. The sensors are activated by a neodymium magnet glued to the top of an 8mm bolt and secured with heat shrink tubing. The quadrant has been drilled and tapped to take the magnet assembly and provide some adjustment. The spacing of the magnet should ensure that at least one or perhaps two LEDs will always be on, but not three, which would be confusing. I'mconfused........

25/10/2013 Sometime back, I bought some oval fog lights at a swap meet. They are from a Subaru Forrester. I decided to fit them in the bow of the boat where they will throw a wide flat beam at about 45° to the line of the hull. Since the lenses of the lights are domed, it's not possible to easily draw around them to make a pattern for the required hole. Drawing a regular oval turned into one of those exercises in reviving school boy geometry lessons and fairly unsuccessfully, as it turned out. Still, with some perseverance a suitable oval was drawn.

All the holes in the hull have to be lined with either epoxy or bits of PVC pipe to protect the end grain of the plywood from getting wet and rotting. I had some PVC pipe about 200mm across and realised that it would be very close to the right size to line the oval holes for the lights. It was a bit big as it turned out and so had to be cut down by 5mm or so, but then of course, it distorted and no longer made a nice regular oval. Solution - make the hole in the timber a bit bigger and line any gap between the lamp lens and the hole with black foam rubber. After much experimenting with a number of oval holes in scraps of ply, the right size was established to suit the lining PVC pipe and the fog lamp. Then all that remained was to draw around the hole size that worked directly on to the hull and cut them out quickly before "providence" changed its mind. All done and very nice fully lined holes they are too.

Of course, the lamps are designed to be screwed into moulded brackets in a plastic bumper. Now similar brackets have to be made for the hull. Not easy as it turns out, because the lamp's mounting holes don't line up with anything useful, in any direction. So a bit of empirical bracket making followed; otherwise known as cut a bit and then trim it 'til it fits and if the first attempt doesn't work, make another. I've made two lots so far and I think we're close. Watch this space....

The fog lamps are a classic example of a time wasting "spur of the moment" idea. It has taken a couple of days of effort to get to this point and they're not in yet!! However, it'll be OK in the end. Probably.

In line with an occasional and rather foolish desire to actually get something finished, I decided to paint the inside of the galley. The galley is pretty much complete, but once I start to fit the final splash backs and some varnished timber panels I have in mind, it won't be possible to reach the bits that will need paint protection, despite being out of sight. Painting is one of my least favourite jobs and nothing in the last couple of days has changed my view. Imagine, lying flat on the galley floor with your nose on the floor with one arm fully extended holding a loaded paintbrush, waving it around at the very back of a long narrow cupboard and then having to remove the arm and insert a light and eyeball to be able to see if you've painted anywhere near the area you intended. Then of course, you get to have another go to cover the bits missed on the first try.

Naturally, all good paint jobs should start with coat of epoxy sealer and then have two coats of polyurethane Texture Coat to finish the job. Once you've struggled through that process, getting paint in your hair, beard and everywhere else, you realise that you have the other side of the galley to do and the unbridled joy of doing it all again - and this time left handed! I hate painting......

A far more interesting job started this week was planning the main windscreen. The front wall of the galley, although it has no glass in it, is sort of windscreen shape and the main screen should follow the same general lines. That is, a three piece screen, flat in the middle and swept back a bit at the sides. Then of course, the whole thing is raked backward at a racy 22.5°.

As an aside, why 22.5° you might ask? Well, because it's easy to draw. A 90° angle comes straight off your square or you can do the Pythagoras thing if you have an unnatural interest in old Greeks and then you just halve it a couple of times using a pair of compasses or a Trammel, which if you can remember your High School geometry, is also quite straightforward. So, 90° becomes 45°, which becomes 22.5°. QED. (What does that stand for again)?

The main windscreen sits on the penultimate galley roof beam looking aft. The very last beam having had its middle section removed to provide headroom for the galley steps and light and air over what I'mlaughingly calling the breakfast bar. I was proposing to have the centre portion of the window twice as wide as the side panels. That centre portion would then be divided in half again and become two opening hopper style windows. Then I realised that the frame would then be directly in the line of sight of main helm position. Not so good. So, divide the available screen width into three equal parts instead and all is well. The centre one will be an opening panel for fresh air whilst moving.

Great, so let's start building the window frame! Hang on a minute, the frame sits on the galley roof, we've got the roof beams in place, but we haven't put the roof on. Hmm, can't do that because without the windows cut out, it'll be too dark in the galley to do anything else and I'mnot ready to cut out the windows because their shape will be determined by the saloon sidewalls and their windows and to make the saloon sidewalls I need - you guessed it - the windscreen frame.

8/11/2013 OK, I give in. Building the windscreen frame is too hard for the moment. Instead, I've made a couple of chipboard moulds to fit where the windscreen frame will go eventually, just to support the front end of the lintels at the right height to hold the saloon roof beams. Now we can get on with the saloon roof and worry about the windscreen later.

The saloon is about 3 metres long (and almost 3 metres wide) which is really nice! However, the lintels required to hold the roof beams extend a further 3.9 metres toward the stern to form the sides of the sun deck as well. This is partly because the sun deck needs side walls for safety and somewhere to mount a handrail etc. but the other reason is aesthetic.

A boat with very a shallow draft necessarily has most of its superstructure above the waterline. Since the aim is to provide full standing headroom, then that superstructure becomes very tall relative to the length of the boat. This is aggravated by the fact that the engine needs to fit under the floor too, which adds significantly to the overall height of the finished vessel. The problem with all this height is that it tends to destroy any sense of "sleekness" in the finished "look" of the boat and the whole thing tends to look like a floating block of flats. Practical perhaps, but hardly desirable!

To try and offset the effects of the height of particularly the saloon roof, we decided to extend that roofline all the way to the stern to draw the eye away from the height and emphasise the length. (There's probably a joke in there somewhere, in very poor taste no doubt). So, from a distance at least, it should improve the overall "look" of the finished vessel considerably.

So, the lintels for the saloon roof become 6.9 metres long and run from the main windscreen frame past the end of the saloon to the back of the sundeck. Along the way, they become the top edge of the walls of the sundeck. At that point they are about 400mm above the sundeck floor and may well become the backs of some seating as well.

The lintels are laminated from three thicknesses of 12mm Hoop Pine, 80mm deep. The middle piece is only 70mm deep and this creates a groove down the underside of the lintel for the roof beam lighting cables. The part of the lintel that is for the sundeck has only two thicknesses since it's not load bearing and it also has to have a bend in it to follow the shape of the cabin walls. Where the bend occurs, the lintel was sawn practically right through so that it can follow the shape of the boat.

Making up the beams is not difficult, but once they were glued up and ready for dry fitting, the problems with handling a beam 6.9 metres long, with a weak point in the middle, without help became immediately apparent. Lady Luck to the rescue! Standing at the bench wondering how these long beams could be handled, I was delighted to see my friends Ricardo & Helen arrive looking for a cup of tea. Great! I had made several moulds for the sundeck roof to hold the beams in place and with the moulds at the windscreen frame as well, with two extra pairs of hands, both lintels dropped into place without a problem. Time for a "cuppa" .

It turns out that Lady Luck hadn't quite finished bestowing her munificence on the "Rhapsody" project.

With the lintels in place, albeit not actually attached to anything, I decided to install the first roof beam to lock everything in place. The obvious choice was the aft-most beam of the saloon because its supporting structure, being the forward wall of the bathroom was already in place. I cut the joints and whilst moving the Port side lintel slightly, ready for gluing, it slipped and fell. Being now unsupported, of course, it broke at the bend.

I was so disgusted with my clumsiness, I packed up for the day and went home before I could do anymore damage. A good thing as it turned out. In one of those flashes of inspiration that wake you up at night sometimes, I suddenly came awake with the clear realisation that I can't install the saloon lintels yet because if I do, I won't have room to install the engine! It's nice to think that my subconscious, at least, still has some "smarts" left, because the rest of me is becoming a worry......

The back wall of the saloon, which is the forward wall of the bathroom, is almost a full sheet of ply that will be very visible in the saloon. So, I decided to groove and random stain it to look like matchboarding as I have done in the bedroom. This involves cutting grooves in the surface of the ply with a pointed router bit to a depth of less than a millimetre. When the stain is applied it settles in the groove and produces a darker colour, which adds definition and I think, looks good.

Butt joining a big panel into place is always a hassle, but with the aid of the trusty Biscuit Joiner, it's not quite so bad. So now the bathroom has most of its walls, and the saloon has a back wall, stained and ready for a clear polyurethane finish. All good!

28/11/2013 I just noticed that this chapter of the Rhapsody Epistle is up to 14,000 odd words (some very odd words too, really) and whilst this chapter only covers about seven months so far, it is already somewhat bigger than the description of work during the same period last year. I beginning to wonder if more time "doing" and less time "typing" might be more productive. Still, it's been hot this week and today's my birthday, so staying home seems like a good idea.

Random events during the last week have conspired to reduce the time available for boat building. The trusty Subaru Brumby that everyone says is unbreakable is! Driving along and seeing the Oil Light come on is a bit disconcerting, but not half as much as looking under the bonnet and seeing the mess made by an engine that has decided to dump the contents of the sump all over the engine bay - very messy!

Having rebuilt the oil pump (a known culprit from earlier experiences) and cleaned up the mess, it was doubly disconcerting to have it happen again three days later. The real malefactor turned out to be the front oil seal on the crankshaft that had not been installed properly by a person or persons unknown. Anyway, after much running around on busses and other inconveniences, we're back in business and not a leak in sight - so far..... I just have to clean the engine bay - again...

The only real progress in the last couple of weeks is with the final glassing of the engine room and main fuel tank compartments These rather grandiose terms refer to the area under the saloon floor (when I build it) that house the engine and the 360 litre petrol tank. They will have their own bilge blowers (that actually suck of course) and be fibre glassed on all sides to make them easy to keep clean and flammable debris free - hopefully. Gluing big pieces of Double Bias glass cloth on to a vertical surface is a bit of a trial because it pulls out of shape in every direction because of the weave and though cut with great care, never fits when you get it on the job. Humph! The frustration is compounded when the weather is hot and the epoxy only has a Pot Life of about thirty seconds - well alright, maybe it's ten minutes really!

Many moons ago I made a removable flight of three steps to go between the saloon and the bedroom levels. You may recall that I have since had to move them 200mm forward for reasons that only became clear much, much later. Another slight issue has been the decision to carpet up a part of the walls for aesthetic purposes, so that my now more or less well fitting removable stairs are too tight a fit to allow for the thickness of carpeted walls. Easy. Take the flight of stairs out again and open the jaws of the band saw to the maximum and cut 10mm off each side. Sounded easy, and it was. Surprise, surprise.

Whist doing a bit of staining as described above, I decided to stain the panel that goes above the bed and makes up the very back panel of the bedroom. It turns out that that panel had been cut with the grain horizontal instead of vertical. This usually isn't a consideration with Hoop Pine because it's white and the grain doesn't really show - not until you stain it that is! I cut the grooves with the router as before, but now the stain is being applied to the open end grain of each groove, where it promptly soaks in much further and produces a much wider dark line than it does when applied in the same direction as the grain. It looks really messy and the "jury" (me) is still pondering that one. I may well make a new panel with the grain in the right direction just so that it looks better. It's called experience.

By the time this boat is finished, I'll almost know how to build one....

7/12/2013 Another ten days seem to have slipped by since I became a year older and apart from my son having a similar event in the meantime, it doesn't seem to have been very productive.

However, the stained back wall of the saloon has had its three coats of clear polyurethane and is finished. There's that "f" word again! And of course as always, it's not absolutely true. The roof beam at the top of the wall, although made, is not actually installed and that's because once that's done I won't have room to swing the engine across the hull into its proper place. These things are all interdependent.

Glassing in the engine bay and the fuel tank area is also finished and I'll roller a coat of raw epoxy over the whole area to provide a smoother surface that, once it's painted as well, should be relatively easy to keep clean. All I have to do now is finish wiring and testing the engine - easy....

Mounting the taps and shower head in the bathroom, given that the walls are only a single panel thickness, presents a problem since the back of the taps and plumbing would be visible from outside - not pretty! The solution is to take a 45° corner off the otherwise square shower alcove and use it to create a hidden area to run the pipes out of sight. There are a number of other connections to be made with gear on the top deck, specifically the upper helm position and the BBQ. So, the same corner cut-off in the shower becomes a "trunk" for a number of pipes, cables and wires. Access into the trunk is by a removable panel in the corridor from the saloon to the bedroom.

The so-called removable panel was a solid sheet of plywood until yesterday when a 200mm wide piece was removed. Why that width? Well, the whole panel is to be grooved and stained to match what is rapidly becoming a theme through the boat and the grooves are about 100mm apart, so that's two grooves worth. Also, making a join between the trunk cover and the fixed panel down one of the regular panel grooves will make it a bit less conspicuous. Although, a double row of cupped counter-sunk screws down each side might just be a bit of a give-away...

To complete the trunk, the shower needs a panel at 45° across its corner. Now, all the care that goes into trying to cut things square, straight and at 90° goes out of the window while we cut a 2.4m panel with 45° edges and make up two pieces of moulding, also with a 45° face each. Still, all done. It might be a bit premature to install it all since I haven't worked out the shower drain yet and that will affect the bottom of the panel.

I had also been thinking all along that I would have the shower floor lower than the bedroom / passage level to give more headroom in the shower. That presents a number of issues such having a step immediately inside the bathroom door is dangerous and the fact that it would put the toilet bowl slightly below the "full" level of the black tank, which might have a few nasty side effects..... Solution? Simple, abandon the idea; easy.

13/01/2014 Well, here we are in a shiny new year and despite the silly season, ample good cheer, hot weather and rampant indolence, some progress in the boat building sphere has occurred; believe it or believe it not......

The athwartships girders for the saloon floor were installed many moons back and at the time I also constructed some lighter girders to become their fore & aft companions. These were put to one side for reasons that I no longer recall, but were reintroduced to the light just before Christmas to be fitted into the boat.

Each girder is made of three strips of plywood glued into an "I" beam shape and then filleted and glassed; they are surprisingly strong too! The athwartships beams, being the longest, are also thicker and even more substantial. The upright part of the "I" is two thicknesses of ply, making them 25mm thick and quite in keeping with the general principles of "if in doubt, overbuild" being so well demonstrated just about everywhere else in the vessel. Actually, it just made them easier to fit into the side support brackets already installed in the boat. Also, that decision was made before I realised that I could support the beams in two places along their length with a couple of small saddles. The floor is now very solid and quite ready for the first party.

Back to the "fore & aft" girders. These are principally used at the sides of the saloon floor to support the inner edges of fixed panels glued to the hull, that "square up" the remaining bulk of the floor area. This "squared-up" area is then filled with eight removable tiles. Each tile is 12mm plywood about 580 by 520 and because they are all the same size, they can be removed and re-installed in any position, without worrying about which came from where. Each tile has three 20x40 Meranti stringers glued and glassed underneath to keep the plywood rigid.

Fore & Aft joists are also used to support the covers over the fuel tank and the engine. The engine compartment actually has two covers because the area is quite large in order to allow easy access to the engine (well, one side of it at least) and the pair of covers needs to be supported down the middle. Given that it would be convenient for major servicing to be able to remove not only both cover panels, but the Fore & Aft support as well, the girder has been made removable. Each end of the girder is mounted on the relevant bulkhead with 4 x 10mm bolts through 5mm aluminium butt plates on both sides. As always, if in doubt - overbuild.....

The fixed filler pieces of floor, between the removable tiles and engine covers and the hull, have all been made and dry-fitted. During this process it became clear that once these panels were permanently installed, they would create areas that would be almost impossible to reach for painting, so they have to be painted on the bench and likewise, the inside of the hull painted out completely as well. Painting, in this case, means soaking with two-pack epoxy wood preservative and then painting with white satin finish two-pack polyurethane. The bench is now covered with partially painted floor tiles and what will ultimately be the fixed parts of the floor, too. All the components have to be painted both sides of course!

As an aside, a necessary prelude to painting the inside of the hull is first cleaning out all of the collected debris. The "debris" in this case consists of bits of timber, swarf from the power planer and piles of dust from various sanders and general detritus from the construction process over the last four years or so. Cough, cough, sneeze, sneeze and that's with a dust mask! Not a nice job!

Some of the material being removed consists of gobbets of epoxy dropped whilst gluing and filleting other areas, that has actually stuck where it landed. So, this has involved removal with a chisel and mallet. Ah! The romance of building a boat......

I finished the previous entry in this, what shall we call it this time, a Tome perhaps? Webster's describes a tome as a "ponderously large and scholarly book" . Well, I might go along with the first bit.

Anyway, I was talking about abandoning the idea of a step down into the bathroom because of safety considerations (principally mine, I might say), but it left me with the practical problem of how to achieve that. Over yet another cup of tea, I had what, if I were given to a flowery turn of phrase, I might call an epiphany. Actually just a good idea, which like all good ideas once you have them, you realise that it would be blindingly obvious to a five year old and you can't think why you didn't think of it before and in fact, it's so simple, it wasn't actually ever a problem in the first place.

The sticking point had been the fact that the bathroom floor had to be removable to access a waste pump & filter below. This represents all kinds of sealing issues around possible hatches and ultimately what kind of materials do you make the floor from anyway? I had been toying with the idea of using a stainless steel grate for the shower waste instead of a normal drain. Using a grate along one edge of the shower means that you don't have to slope the floor in four directions for proper drainage and in fact, the floor can be flat, although not level, of course. This allowed me to consider using a single sheet of polyethylene as I have for the galley and for much the same reasons. It is strong and stable, completely impervious to water, has a non-slip surface and I wouldn't have to tile it. All good stuff, but what about access to the pump? I had been thinking more generally about ventilation under the floors to avoid condensation build up, when it occurred to me that below floor level, the shower is adjacent to the gearbox area and so why not put the shower pump and filter alongside the gearbox with a small wastepipe through one of the proposed ventilation holes? What's more, the gearbox area already has a removable hatch for checking oil and the like - easy......

I found a grate advertised on eBay from a company in Tasmania. It has quite a small profile for the gutter part, which is nice and it comes in a 1500mm length with a centre, 40mm waste take-off - perfect! I have to have the end cut off and re-welded at 45° to match the plumbing trunking panel in the shower, but a new stainless steel fabrication business that has just opened across the street should be able to fix that.

As part of fitting the floors described above, I realised that, once the painting is finished, I'mready for the petrol tank. (I'malso ready for the engine too, but...!) When such a tank is installed in a truck, the fuel is often taken from the bottom of a tank by gravity, which is fine except that in the case of a plumbing failure, all the petrol falls out of the tank. In a truck, the petrol falls onto the road and it's not too much of a problem, but in a boat it's a whole different issue. So, in this case, the fuel will be drawn from the top of the tank by electric pump, so that if the "plumbing" fails, the petrol will stay in the tank, which is far safer! However, it does mean that I need an extra hole in the top of the tank. The new metal fabrication business across the street disappointed me when I explained what I wanted by saying "I don't weld tanks, Mate" and whilst I do understand the dangers, it was a nuisance. Another friend of a friend kindly consented to do it for me, did it almost overnight, and did it for nothing - thanks, Tony!!

Now to make a set of support frames for the tank. These shouldn't be an issue except that one will be extended upward to become part of the main saloon roof support, which also holds all of the side of the hull in alignment as well. More of that later.

I have never been much of a fan of Christmas, I think it is often a Season of Unmet Expectations and can be a chronically lonely time for some folk. However, I have mollified my view a bit and have enjoyed the Festive Season this year. It is summer in Australia and 2014 is well under way; the weather forecast this week is for 40+&adeg; every day, so I suspect that there may not be a lot of boat building done, but even so, maybe this year we will get a boat wet; we'll see.

28/1/2014 I hate painting. One of the main tasks since my last confess... err report, has been to paint the new saloon floor panels and the area under the floor with timber preservative and two coats of polyurethane. I was tempted to talk myself out of white polyurethane finishing the under floor area because it's out of sight, away from the UV rays, only for storage etc. etc., but I'mglad now that it's done. It looks good and many of the construction sins are hidden and the whole area will be much easier to keep clean in the future.

We have more hot weather forecast for this week, 40°+, which is why I'm sitting here writing about progress rather than making any. It's a bit ironic, really.

The fixed portion of the floor still isn't - fixed, that is. I have decided to make one or more of the four saloon roof supports first. It may be that they will go through where the fixed floor panels will be and they will be much more difficult to fit after the floor is installed, than before. I've decided that the saloon roof supports will be laminated from alternate timber types, to about 50x60, to match the roof beams, but I need to visit the wood yard first for more timber. On the Starboard side, the saloon roof support also forms part of the access door frame and that has been the source of much thought, discussion and planning. I think the design and sizing is just about settled, so we'll move on.

Once the saloon is finished, it will be fitted with a wood heater. I purchased what I thought was an appropriate pot belly stove quite some time back and having tried it out, realised that it is probably better suited to Heat Beads or Briquettes rather than timber as a fuel, because its throat is so small. So, whilst casting around eBay for anything interesting (as you do), I spotted a Metter's wood stove from the 1920s that had been salvaged from a Guard's Van on the NSW railways. I put in a bid and rapidly realised that my idea of its value was significantly less than those of just about everyone else. I didn't win the auction, but it did start me looking. That was some time back, but these ideas are not to be ignored. I was at a market two weeks ago and someone had just the thing going for $50 and I couldn't get my money out fast enough, as the one on eBay went for $495. With a sand blast and a coat of Pot Belly Black, it will be just fine, although siting the flue might be a minor challenge.

I have also been monitoring eBay for courtesy lights for the various stairs in the boat. I'monly looking at LED lights and some of the offerings, whilst good looking, are really expensive and quite large. Given that I've decided I need about ten units, the price becomes significant, too. Again, during an eBay browse (probably for pot bellies), I came across the perfect thing. A small chrome finish light that only projects 8mm and shines predominantly downward in a fetching electric blue (well, it would be; being electric and all......). All for the princely sum of nine dollars. Great; another issue resolved by eBay.

I was explaining to someone recently about the power output of solar panels and how one could calculate how many you need for any particular application. As part of that explanation I used my boat as the example, however it made me realise that I had somewhat underestimated my own application. My fridge draws 6½ amps at 12 volts, which is 78 watts. In a 24 hour period, that's 1800 watts. Given that the fridge doesn't run all the time depending on the temperature of the day and how often you open the door, let's say it's 50% efficient, which means that it will need 900 watts in any 24 hour period. Now, I have a 200 watt solar panel and if we have sunlight for, say, 6½ hours and the panel runs at 75% efficiency, depending on temperature, it would generate 975 watts in that same 24 hour period. Now, that seems a bit close for comfort given that no solar panel will generate anything like 75% all the time and there are other things needing power like lights, bilge pumps and really important stuff like the telly. Ah well, back to eBay for an additional 200w solar panel. Oh, and while you're there, the MPPT controller you bought previously is not big enough for two solar panels, so we'd better have a new, bigger one of those, too. Humph!

The boat shed is at Port Elliot, which is 85 km from home and I always thought that visitors would be few and far between. Not so! I have been delighted to have many friends drop in for a "cuppa" and a look around. Perhaps there is more to see these days. A friend visiting the other day remembered my need for ice cream containers for mixing glue and paint and brought a couple of dozen - a mother lode! Thanks, Geoff!

If you're anywhere near Port Elliot and fancy a coffee, drop in, you'll be most welcome. Any excuse to stop work............

31/01/2014 The courtesy lights mentioned above arrived last week and included some documentation warning about the dangers of over-voltages occurring. Don't you love Chinese manuals? Some of the English is, umm, creative to say the least. Still it's not fair to criticise, at least not until my Mandarin is as good as their English - hmm...

The main power system for the boat is nominally 12 volts. However, in practice, that can vary widely and wildly. When the House batteries are down a bit, they may only be giving 11 volts, but whilst being charged by solar panels, the engine alternator, or a shore based charger, or all three, the voltage may be well above 15v. Not good for some sensitive stuff like LED lights, computers, TVs, etc. so a voltage regulator will be needed. For the LED lighting circuits perhaps a dimmer as well? Just for atmosphere, of course...

This week has seen a trip to the timber panel suppliers for more plywood. Since I'monly making floors at present, the British Standard BS 1088 plywood is fine, but it doesn't compare with the Australian Standard Hoop Pine in strength or ease of use. However, it is significantly cheaper and for floors, which are not "structural" , that is very much in its favour. I also bought some 4mm Hoop Pine to groove and stain to finish the galley walls above the splashbacks. As with any visit to timber suppliers, the acronym BOAT always seems to apply. L

The bulkheads which are to support the floors around the fuel tank and engine spaces are only 12mm thick and need to have battens fixed around them to make them wide enough to properly support the floor panels. 40x19 Meranti has been glued to their upper edges as with other under the floor areas in preparation for making the rest of the floors. The main bulkheads ended up a little out of square with the hull for reasons that still a mystery, but at least fitting all these battens has provided the opportunity to taper some of them a little, to square things up a bit.

The engine is not aligned with the fore and aft line of the boat for reasons which are explained in excruciating detail elsewhere. As a result, the inner panel of the engine space is 5° out of square with the boat and more importantly at present, with the remainder of the saloon floor panels. To simplify matters (I hope), a 200mm wide board, which is also provided with ledges to support what will be the engine access hatch, has been permanently attached to the top edge of the offending panel. All of this to be filleted and glassed as well, of course.

The floor panel on the outside of the actual engine hatch is also removable, as is its supporting "I" beam. This hatch has now been made and once the engine hatch is ready, the pair will be filleted, glassed, sealed and painted. Just the fuel tank space floor to go...

The additional solar panel is being delivered today, so there is nothing for it, I'll just have to stay home - what a shame... Actually, the weather forecast is 40°+ again so a steel shed is no place for a mere human to be.

20/02/2014 Summers in Adelaide seem to be getting hotter. We've just come through 14 days where the maximum temperature was in excess of 40° every day; one day it reached 44.7°, which is 112.46°F. Needless to say, visits to a steel shed and therefore progress on the boat, have been minimal.

However, it did provide the opportunity in early mornings and late evenings, to do a bit of work on the engine. It has been sitting in the corner of the shed for about five years and although I did run it up when I first got it, it has been studiously ignored since then.

Actually, that's not entirely true. The engine has had new plugs, points, leads, coil and transistorised ignition fitted. I also removed all the Welch plugs and cleaned all the internal waterways. The Jabsco water pump has a new impellor and all the coolant hoses and clamps have been replaced. The exhaust system was re-made to provide a "goose neck" because the engine, once installed, will be almost completely below the water line. Sensors for the various new gauges have been fitted as well.

The trolley, made so long ago, was actually too big to simulate the real engine bay, so I partly dismantled it, cut it back to the proper size and then re-mantled it. (OK, I know that's not a word, but it should be. It's like "shevelled" should be the opposite of dishevelled!). So, on its new trolley, securely bolted down with coach screws, it was time to test run the engine. Hold on, there are a few other things first.

A most important step is to provide a wiring harness to connect all the usual bits and pieces, from ignition, gauge senders, alternators (yes, two!) to plugs ready for connection to the boat. The exhaust had to be connected up with its Vetus Wet Muffler and a throttle and choke linkage provided.

I wanted the cooling pump to have to lift its own water to make sure that the flow was adequate, so I set up a stainless steel sink at the level the river water will be, once the engine is installed. To maintain the correct level in the sink, I installed a ball cock, from a toilet cistern, connected to the garden hose to supply water as required. All of which, although it sounds unnecessarily complicated perhaps, worked very well. An electric fuel pump was also set up to use one of the 25 litre outboard tanks as a fuel tank.

The engine started readily enough. It turned out to be awkward to prime the fuel and the cooling water systems properly, but eventually, all was well. I ran the engine for three or four hours and the oil pressure went from 50 psi initially down to 40 psi and stayed there, which is fine.

The engine temperature, in the absence of a temperature gauge, seemed fine; the cylinder head was just too hot to touch. I had been concerned that the engine would run too cold because it was using fresh, cold water all the time and not recirculating any of it. However, now I realise that the cooling water, being routed through the engine sump and gearbox cooler first, has the effect of not only cooling both sets of oil, but of significantly warming the water. It seems like a good system and aside from a couple of leaks, it all works well.

There is a video of the engine start-up on You Tube that you can view if you want to see it in the flesh.

Whilst the engine sounds fine, the gearbox is a different issue. I had been told that in its previous life the owner operated the boat with a "wrong - handed" propeller and to go forwards, simply put the gearbox into "Reverse" . The Borg Warner Installation Manual says "Under no circumstances use Reverse to move the vessel Forwards" . The gearbox is not designed for that level of misuse and I have the whine in reverse gear now to prove it. Still, looking on the bright side, in "Forwards" , which has had practically no use, the gear set sounds great.

The "nasty" noise however, came from the bell housing. A serious rattle and "clank" , indicating all was not well. So, reluctantly, the gearbox had to come off. Sure enough, the vibration damper plate was seized and the six springs very loose in their slots. So the next job is to find someone to service the gearbox and a reference from a friend with a similar unit has provided just that. The gearbox was removed this week and taken to Peter at PR Automotive on Tuesday.

Peter, an ex-Borg Warner engineer, stripped the gearbox before my eyes and sure enough, whilst the reverse clutch set was wrecked, the forward set, along with the rest of the gearbox, as far as we could tell, looked fine. There's some more stripping to be done and Peter will let me know the next steps.

Down at the boat yesterday, the two engine hatches were made. One is actually over the top of the engine and one is to the starboard of it. The starboard panel will carry the bottom of the boarding steps, so is a little more robust. The hatch panels are framed underneath with 19x30 Meranti in the same way as the other, now completed, floor tiles. The engine hatch covers are glued up, but still have to be filleted and fibre glassed.

25/02/2014 My Star Wars mad son and his lovely wife have caused a significant disturbance in The Force. "William James" born today - first Grandchild.

Good, someone to leave the boat to. By the time he's old enough to drive it, it might even be finished......

28/03/2014 The engine covers are now filleted and glassed, painted with preservative and ready for white paint. It's really nice, never mind so much safer, to be able to walk around in the boat on a flat, stable and level floor. The steps down to the galley now work really well because the floor levels that they connect to are all in place.

The main saloon floor is made up of eight identical panels, which are all finished and installed. Any of them can be lifted to access the storage space below between the floor and the top of the black tank. The spaces at the sides of the eight panels, where they meet the hull, are now filled with shaped floor panels too. They are permanently filleted and glassed into the hull on their outer edges and rest on "I" beams on their inner edges. The bracing effect down the sides of the hull itself make it very strong. A special floor panel is now installed on the forward Port corner of the saloon to take the wood stove as well.

A major "hole" remaining in the saloon floor is over the main petrol tank space. Is that a "locker" , or a "bunker" perhaps? The tank is a second-hand aluminium truck tank 1500mm long and 660mm in diameter. It holds about 410 litres. I have made two frames to sit in the bottom of the hull and support the tank. They are 12mm ply on edge, filleted and glassed into the hull. The frames extend up to the underside of the saloon floor at the side of the hull, which is only really to avoid creating "hard points" , which might make the hull prone to puncture. They also provide more general support for the hull shape, but as a complete piece of good fortune, the aft frame sits right over the joint in the hull where the tunnel starts. It was only a stepped butt join and although it's 25mm thick, there's no harm in giving it a bit of extra support. The equivalent spot on the Starboard side is right under the engine bed and is equally well supported. Pure chance, but reassuring nonetheless.

The edges of the tank frames, where they actually touch the tank, cover exactly half the tank circumference and have doubler pieces added to make them 50mm thick to spread the load. This replicates the normal truck mounting even down to the Nitrile tank strapping to cushion the contact. The tops of the tank will be locked in with shaped floor beams that will be bolted into the hull rather than glued, to facilitate removal. That's a horrible thought......

Dry-fitting the tank involved getting the tank into the boat - obviously! However, whilst the tank is not particularly heavy, it is awkward, but a chain block in the roof of the shed made simple work of the job. The tank is a tight fit; there is only 15mm clearance at each end, but it sits down on the frames very snugly. Out again ready for wood preservative and final painting.

Petrol vapour is heavy and in certain concentrations extremely explosive. Many boats have been lost over the years because of petrol vapour in the bilges. To try and avoid this effect, the fuel tank locker is completely sealed from the rest of the boat. However, this does create a couple of other issues.

Firstly, if there is any petrol vapour in the tank locker, it has to be removed. This is achieved by fitting a separate "Bilge Blower" that is activated before the engine is started and then comes on automatically, periodically, whilst the engine is running. (Why are bilge blowers not called "bilge suckers" ? For the same reason the interior walls of a boat are called ceilings, I suppose)...... Most bilge blowers use a 75mm hose to reach the lowest point of the enclosed space and then mount directly on the hull to ventilate to the outside. The motors are usually sealed too, to avoid sparks, which seems like a really good idea. In this case, sucking air from the very bottom of the fuel tank locker via a 75mm hose would be fine if there were 75mm clearance under the tank for the hose, but there's not; it's only about 30mm. The solution was a curved plywood air duct, shaped to reach the lowest point under the tank and wide enough to give it the same overall air flow as a 75mm circular hose; (remember πr2?). The duct ended up 150mm wide and made from 6mm ply with a 75mm PVC gutter pop glued in the end for the hose attachment. It was filleted and glassed in place under the aft-most part of the tank, remembering that whilst the bottom of the tank locker may be flat, it's not level. When the boat is sitting level (which may be never), the tank slopes towards the stern.

The second issue is that since the tank locker is sealed, there has to be a way of getting any bilge water out and again, because the tank is such a tight fit, there's no room for an electric bilge pump. Not that you would necessarily want an electric bilge pump in an area where petrol vapour might lurk. So, a manual pump with a pick-up hose that will fit under the tank is a solution. Another thing is of course, how do you know if there's any bilge water to be pumped out? The area is sealed, except for its lid and it's hard to see the bottom. So the forward tank frame now has a sealed plastic float switch fitted that will connect to an alarm of some sort in due course.

The locker still needs an air vent and a skin fitting for the bilge pump, but it's ready for final painting at least and then another major floor panel can be fitted.

I have been postponing the installation of the saloon roof beams and their supports, to leave adequate room to swing the engine into place. (And the petrol tank, fridge and stove for that matter)...... However, I have now decided that the saloon will only have two windows on each side. It's mostly about aesthetics, two wide windows, rather than three narrower ones should emphasise the length of the saloon and therefore the boat, rather than its height. I have long been concerned that the boat will look too "slab sided" because of its height above the water line compared with its length. Two windows instead of three also means only one roof support each side rather than two, although I'mhappy that a single support will be strong enough, especially given that glass on edge is very strong and dimensionally stable. The roof supports are 50mm square and laminated from two different timbers to match the roof beams and will have hanging knees installed as well, the same as the bedroom. The aft-most window on the starboard side of the saloon will actually be the main access door, with a sliding hatch over the top for headroom. The hatch will be made rather deeper than is necessary, so that it can also be used to gain access to remove the engine, should that be necessary in the future. Ugh!

I visited the wood yard recently and was astonished to see the place had been reorganised. It was almost obsessively tidy with new racking and a seemingly large number of new staff in bright monogrammed shirts. So I was a bit confused when the "boss" asked for my order number. I'mused to just walking in, finding a pile of the right timber and selecting the planks I want. Now, it turns out, I have to order the timber in advance, so I left empty handed only to return three days later to pick up my order. I congratulated the "boss" on his reorganisation. "Yes" , he said, "it's a very smooth and efficient operation now" . I pointed out that it now takes three days to provide materials that used to be available in one day, but I think the irony was lost......

The other result of the new system at the wood yard is that when your order is ready, it is completely wrapped in white plastic sheet. No bad thing in itself, but you can't check what you're getting. When I finally unwrapped my new purchases, the Hoop Pine, requested as #1 Clear, was nothing of the sort. There were several knots in the timber and one plank is almost unusable. Shame on you Australian Timbers.

Peter Sharkey from PR Automotive has stripped the Borg Warner Velvet Drive gearbox and has found that the reverse gear clutch is in poor shape as we expected. The previous owner of the gearbox used reverse gear to travel forwards instead of getting a correctly "handed" propeller. The up side is, of course, that the forward clutch is almost pristine. Peter suggested that whilst we have the gearbox apart, we might as well recondition the whole thing. The labour cost is not much more, so that's what we will do. However, the price of the spare parts did shock me so I decided to check the trusty Internet to see if purchasing directly from the US would be better. Peter said he was quite happy to fit the parts if I imported them privately, so I investigated further. As an example, the price of a Borg Warner reverse clutch plate in Australia is $169. Direct from the US it is $19.50. The engine adapter/damper in Australia is $280; the price from the US is $77. All these parts are plus freight of course, but even so, someone is trying for a 5000% mark-up, which seems unreasonable to me. Perhaps the advent of the Internet will stop these practices that have gone on for too long in Australia. As part of his quotation, Peter provided me with a parts list and even part numbers, which is extraordinarily good of him, and I have ordered all the bits from Hales Marine in Virginia ( Incidentally, the freight cost quoted by Hales was nearly $500 to Australia, but I have previously used a freight forwarding agent, because they have much better overseas freight rates. The total freight cost to Australia should end up around $68. The forwarding agent is called "Shipito" . They provide an excellent service and they can be contacted at

When I was test running the engine I noticed a severe whine around the front cam gear area. The Holden Red motor has a fibre cam gear, apparently for quieter operation, but they have a reputation for being fragile when worn and can shatter. They can be replaced with an alloy gear, but they are very noisy, apparently, and are to be avoided. Given that it's much easier to address these things when the engine is in the shed rather than in the boat, I removed the cam gear cover to have a look. It turns out that the cam gear is fibre and it's just fine. The problem was me! When I decided to fit a second alternator (all of which seems so long ago) it involved the second drive belt coming off the crank pulley at a very odd angle. So much so that the timing mark, which is a raised section of the casting, was in the way. The solution was to cut it off, which I did. That would have been fine except that the casting at that point is hollow and so the cam cover was now no longer oil tight - big problem! As a solution, I inserted a plug of high temperature DevCon epoxy to seal the hole and once it dried, painted it over and promptly forgot all about it. However, the epoxy had squeezed far enough through the hole to just touch the rotating fibre cam gear, which is where all the engine noise was coming from. Easy enough to fix, but having to remove the cam gear cover involves removing the harmonic balancer, which is also easy enough with the right puller, except that I didn't have one. On the bright side, I get to inspect the cam gear up close, fit new gaskets and fit a shiny new front crankshaft oil seal as well. Hmm - bloody amateurs!