Fitting Out (Year 6):

Date Discussion
1/4/2015 Yes, you guessed it - another new chapter! Well, what did you expect to find here?

The usual memory refresher follows for those abject cowards who start reading this tome from here! Go on, read the whole thing - masochism is good for the soul! There are 76,605 words of detailed description, boring repetition, whimsical fancy, pearls of wisdom (maybe) and gloriously pithy puns that you've missed. Think of the Valium you could have saved.....

OK, here goes: 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 sixth year of "just fitting out"........

Had you noticed that because the fitting out process started in March 2010, the description of the process necessarily started around April 1st? Since I've divided the document into, what has turned out to be annual chapters, each one has also started around, well, April Fool's Day. Should I see something significant about that do you think?

The total construction time is now approaching seven years. People have asked me "How do you maintain the passion?" That's easy - habit! Other people ask "What will you do when it's finished?" I tell them "Build another one of course". Actually, by the time I have finished Rhapsody, I will have accumulated enough experience to be almost adequate at the process........

The bathroom has been the focus of much activity in the last two weeks. All the vertical panels are now installed and glassed, including the inside of the hull. Access holes have been cut in the area below the floor to provide access for cables, pipes and general airflow. An additional bilge blower (read: extractor fan) will be installed inside the wardrobe, against the hull, to provide additional ventilation for the gearbox locker and the underfloor areas of the bathroom.

The triangular trunking that carries the shower plumbing and the upper helm control cabling may also provide an additional air intake for the engine & gearbox area - we'll see. You can't have too much ventilation when there's any chance of petrol fumes around.

The remaining bathroom floor frames have been made and glassed and all three installed today. The floor is flat, but has a fall of 30mm over 1400mm toward a grate that runs the full fore and aft length of the bathroom. This will work nicely on the odd occasion when the boat is standing level and not listing to one side or the other at that particular moment, which is more likely really.

The floor will be in two parts. The shaped section nearest the hull will be made of plywood and permanently installed. This provides a square face for the remainder of the floor and provides some additional bracing for the hull avoiding any "hard points" that would be created otherwise by the floor frames.

The remaining part of the floor will be a simple rectangle. It will be made of polyethylene and held in place with Sikaflex, which because it won't actually stick, will still be removable in an emergency.

The toilet pan has been dry fitted in the bathroom to check that one has enough room around it, as the Victorian's might have put it, to "Adjust One's Dress". Personally, I'm trying to give up wearing dresses......

The hand basin too, has been the subject of much research and discussion. My Partner and I went to Europe last year and discovered the joys of having to wash our "smalls" in a hand basin. Some of the basins are just ridiculous. They are too small, too shallow, have no overflow and are hung too low. So, learning from that experience, I ordered a basin today from Routley Plumbing to perform dual duty as hand basin and a laundry trough. It is 585 x 460 and really deep. Of course, it's not the cheapest either, but what price such comforts? (Actually, nothing from Routley's is cheap, but they are the sole agents)......

17/04/2015 A very special day for a very special someone today!

The bathroom floor frames are now filleted and glassed into the hull and the ventilation holes all lined with epoxy to ensure the end-grains are protected from damp. The frames needed some "adjustment", (about two hours of adjustment actually), to ensure that the final floor will be flat and at the correct slope or "fall" toward the drainage grate. Side battens have been fitted to the fore and aft bulkheads as well, to support the edges of the floor. All the exposed timber has now been glassed or epoxied, or both, ready for painting.

The aft end of the gearbox space will now be ventilated via a 75mm PVC pipe into the under floor area of the bathroom and then through to a blower in the hull side of the wardrobe. The pipe will have an additional hole at the lowest point under the bathroom floor to provide some positive ventilation there too.

The two bilge blowers, (plus another one for the main fuel tank locker), draw about 5 amps each. They will not need to operate all the time and I decided that a cycle of two minutes on and ten minutes off would be a good place to start. Switching 15 amps on and off then becomes a bit of an issue because the timing circuit I had intended to install can't manage anything like that. Happily, the Taiwanese supplier has just released a new on/off cycling timer that switches 30 amps. How do you say "Nice Timing" in Mandarin?

The blower for the fuel tank compartment will use a matching timing circuit to provide some redundancy in case of a failure, although it's a significant "over-kill" from a current handling perspective. The timing cycle can be much less too; I will start with one minute on and fifteen off perhaps.

Another feature that has to be added to the blower timers is a remote start facility. I have purchased an electronic Petrol and LPG vapour "sniffer" from New Zealand, which if it detects either gas, has to be able to start the bilge blowers. This particular unit has two sensing heads, one for the engine bay and one for the galley and it will be operating all the time, even when the boat is unattended. If it detects any petrol or gas fumes at any time, it will then start all the bilge blowers and ventilate the hull automatically.

The corner of the shower area is cut off at 45° to create a closed trunk for engine controls and wiring for the upper helm position and for the gas line to supply the BBQ. It also allows the shower plumbing to be concealed from sight from within the bathroom, but still make it accessible via a removable panel in the passageway, outside the bathroom. The panel that creates the trunk was cut out some time back, and is now glassed both sides and finally installed in the boat against two new 45° battens. One of those battens also forms the landing to secure the access cover in the passage.

The main floor of the bathroom is to be removable. Although it will be glued down and sealed with Sikaflex, it can still be removed with a sharp knife if that becomes necessary. However, the area of floor immediately under the toilet and basin are more convenient if they are fixed. An additional consideration is avoiding the creation of "hard points" on the hull.

Where athwartships fittings meet the hull, as the bathroom floor frames do in this case, they create "hard points". That is a region under the waterline where the hull planks are very solidly supported at one point, but not so either side. If the hull strikes an underwater object, immediately either side of a "hard point", it can puncture the hull rather than flex enough to survive the impact. Fixing a fore and aft panel, such as a floor, along a series of "hard points" spreads any impact load, and reduces this problem significantly.

So, a fixed portion of floor for the bathroom has been made and glassed ready for permanent installation. It also has the landings attached to support the removable portion of the floor. Once it is installed, it has to be painted underneath, which is a real nuisance because you have to lay on your stomach and you can't really see what you're doing. Painting hidden places with a mirror is not the nicest of jobs. Ah - the joys of boat building!

Having the fixed portion of floor available for dry fitting also provided the opportunity for the toilet pan to be placed in its proposed position for a trial "sit". (Watch your spelling here.....). One has to prove that here is sufficient room around a toilet for - umm - personal convenience, shall we say? Happily, the new hand basin turned up this week too, so all the final dimensions and layout for the bathroom can be confirmed. It's the small things that count; I wear spectacles, and I need somewhere to put them safely while I'm in the shower. So, I've allowed a 150mm space to the right of the hand basin for that purpose.

8/5/2015 A big day today! Rhapsody now has its engine installed.

A Holden Red Motor stripped of most of its accessories, but with a Velvet Drive gearbox attached, still weighs about 300Kg. It has to be lifted vertically for 1.8m to get it over the side of the hull and then swung horizontally across the saloon floor for almost 2m sideways to reach the engine bay. It then has to be lowered a metre or so to find the engine mounts. The back of the gearbox has to fit through a cut-out in the bulkhead, so the engine has to be tilted downward and manoeuvred through the bulkhead, gearbox first. It's a fiddly process and with a 300Kg lump, it takes time and patience, together with a few ropes and bits of timber, to finally sit it in the right place. It also takes the help of a couple of friends, so thanks Jan and Moose; I couldn't have done it without you!

The job was planned carefully and used three chain blocks attached to one of the shed's roof beams. The beam was itself braced with steel poles to help support the weight. The initial lift was straightforward; a piece of scrap plywood being used to stop the engine mounts scraping the sides of the hull on the way up. Once the engine was high enough to clear the top edge of the gunnel, a second chain block, positioned about one metre inboard, was attached to the same engine lift point. The first chain block was then loosened slowly whilst the second chain block was taken up. The engine then maintained the same height above the saloon floor, but swung inboard gently until the second chain block was holding all the weight. A third chain block, positioned immediately above the engine bay, was then attached to the same engine lift point and the process repeated. It was a bit like Tarzan swinging through the jungle from vine to vine, although I thought all the imitation Tarzan yodels from my trusty assistants was a bit over the top. Ultimately, we decided that Sheena of The Jungle would have been just about as much use, but have been a rather prettier image.

Once the engine was positioned over the top of the mountings, it was tilted down at the back in order to fit through the aft bulkhead. It was then lowered gently using a rope attached at the back to pull it backwards enough to align with the mountings. Once the back mountings were in place, the front was simply lowered into place. Done.

The timber engine mounting frame had been dry-fitted under the engine quite some time earlier in the shed, before it was epoxied and glassed in to the boat. This ensured that everything would all fit without difficulty. The Poly-Flex mountings were installed but not bolted up, to allow for some movement. Further adjustment will almost certainly be required when we get around to installing the propeller shaft. That too has a Poly-Flex flexible coupling, so some misalignment can be accommodated.

It was interesting to note that whilst the gentle tipping of the engine during its journey to the boatshed in the back of the Ute, showed up an oil leak in the sump, that is now fixed. The sump gasket has been replaced (again) and installed properly this time hopefully, and with a severe tipping up during installation, the engine didn't leak a drop of oil. Good.

Whilst replacing the sump gasket I remembered that I had a new set of points that I had not yet fitted. Another five minute job you might say, but not so! The points are fitted onto a plate that is supposed to be able to be rotated by a vacuum servo unit in order to change the ignition timing. However, someone had greased it with thick, sticky grease and the whole thing was locked solid. So, more dismantling to remove the plate completely and clean it, before applying some light machine oil and reinstalling it with its new points. The fly weights beneath the vacuum advance plate were also smothered in sticky grease and had to be thoroughly cleaned before they would move freely. A new capacitor completed the job since I'd had to take the old one out, fitting a new seemed like a good precaution.

Now the engine is in place, all the tasks such as saloon walls and roof, rear ballast tank and propeller shaft, that have been held up can proceed. No excuses now - hmm!

Altogether a great day - another major milestone!

3/6/2015 The last month has seen some progress. It has also seen a few days goofing off, driving a 1908 wood fired paddle steamer from Goolwa to Morgan (320km) just for fun.

On to more interesting things. Since the frames under the bathroom floor are now complete, except for finishing the cleaning up and painting, it's time to make a temporary floor. A piece of 12mm chipboard does the job nicely until it's time to cut out the real polyethylene sheet version. Now I can actually stand in the bathroom on a floor that is at the correct height and although being suddenly nearer the roof, which makes it seem a bit claustrophobic by contrast, there is actually plenty of headroom. Also, with the toilet and hand basin frame in place it is clear that the bathroom is actually quite spacious and will be very comfortable to use.

Having the temporary floor in place allowed an accurate template to be made finally, for the waste water grate. It's made of stainless steel and is about 40mm wide and has to be cut off at 45° at one end, to fit up against the angled shower wall. With the template in hand, my friend Grant attacked the grate with an angle grinder and welder and did a terrific job - thanks Grant!!

The other job now possible in the bathroom is to measure up for the laminate sheeting with which I propose to cover the walls. I have selected an Italian laminate in bright blue and ordered two full sheets today. Application to a vertical wall is no trivial job as I found out in the galley, but the result will be well worth it I think. With some white painted areas of wall and some mirrors and perhaps some yellow curtains, it will look fabulous.

Now the engine is installed, I have started planning the saloon roof. The laminated roof beams were made long ago and have been just resting under the boat awaiting their day in the sun; well fluorescent lights anyway. The side beams, called joists in a house or carlins on a boat, that hold the roof beams are also made and installed, albeit on temporary frames. The aft-most point of the carlins, against the saloon wall are to be mounted on vertical posts laminated from two contrasting timbers, to match the roof beams, except of course, that they will be straight. They will have laminated hanging knees in place as well, matching those in the bedroom, just for appearances. "Faux Knees" in fact, or is that just "Phoneys" do you suppose? The two vertical posts, together with another pair for the front of the saloon have all been completed.

The centre pair of posts were made some time back and have now had their joints cut and been fitted into place. They will have hanging knees as well, but not just for decoration this time. Hanging knees generally fit in a corner where two beams join, to provide extra strength and prevent flexing (or "wracking"). In early days, trees with right angled branches were much prized because a knee could be cut from a single piece of timber and have the grain follow around the angle. These ‘grown knees' were often clear finished to show a beautiful grain. I'm not doing that - I know my limitations.

I have also made a set of posts for the forward end of the saloon, that's where the windscreen will be, of course. I have put off thinking too much about the screen previously because of its complexity. It has a number of angles and slopes and will contain an opening window as well, which makes it all very difficult. It turns out that the posts I made may not get used for the windscreen in the end, since not much of it is vertical. However, waste not - want not, there is still the back wall of the bedroom and whilst that's not vertical either, they may well find a place there.

I have selected the windscreen slope as 22½° mainly because the angle is easy to construct. Halving an angle of 90° and then halving it again is quite straightforward and repeatable. I decided that the screen should be in five pieces because in any of the three or four panel arrangements I tried, one of the frames ends up right in front of the helmsman's eyes - not good for visibility. Incidentally terms like "Helmsman", and "Man Overboard" are not considered gender specific terms these days, although I still struggle with the notion of an "Actor" having breasts - just call me old fashioned.

I installed a piece of 12mm scrap material on the galley roof, where the windscreen will mount, so that I can start modelling a prototype for the screen and start taking off the correct measurements. I have made a couple of windscreen pillars, again from scrap, because it is also important to become accustomed to the "look" of the thing and see whether I like it. So far, I think it looks terrific. How one actually builds the rotten thing comes later.

Having installed the carlins that hold the roof beams, I then realised that I could "place" if not actually install, temporary saloon sides using 4mm sheets of MDF. Given that we now know the rake of the windscreen, it was then only a small step to draw the outlines of all the windows. It was the best part of a day's work, but well worthwhile. I still have some reservations about the shape of the roofline aft of the saloon, where it drops down to the bedroom roof level. We'll think about that some more, but it is really nice to be able to stand back and appreciate to overall "look" of the emerging vessel.

Now that the engine is installed, it seemed like a good time to resurrect the stern tube and propeller shaft from their places of hiding under the boat and see if they fit. They don't, which is a bit of a disappointment really.

Having initiated a "Royal Commission" around my office to review the engineering drawings, it turns out that somehow between iterations two and three, the arrowheads on two critical dimension lines were moved erroneously. It is doubly frustrating that that part of Version 2 of the drawing was actually correct and the error was introduced with the creation of Version 3. What's even worse is that I can't blame anyone else - it's wholly my fault.

The nett result is that both the stern tube and prop shaft are 450mm too short. Now, a few millimetres either way I could accommodate, being too long rather than too short would have been OK too, but too short and by so much - nah! So, back to Phillip Mathews for advice and when the laughter subsided, he decided that because the stern tube is threaded to take the stuffing box, he can simply make up an extension, with an additional bearing and all will be well.

The prop shaft however, is a different matter. I had wondered if it was a good opportunity to fit a universal joint to simplify the alignment with the engine, but universal joints don't like carrying the thrust from the propeller, so that would have involved a new thrust bearing arrangement and reinforcing the hull at a different point to cope with it, none of which is good. You could extend the shaft with an extra "bit", but that involves making a couple of flanges to suit the tapered and keyed shafts and correct alignment still arises as a problem to say nothing of the cost of actually doing it. So, nothing for it - make a new prop shaft. Can I interest anyone in a second hand stainless steel shaft - going cheap?

What was perhaps an upside of all this is that the shaft actually aligns with the engine rather well - it just needed to be a bit longer. Now where have I heard that before - yes, I know - don't say it.....

16/7/2015 The Port and Starboard saloon roof joists or carlins are now glued in and permanent. After a good deal of discussion with Moose, the plans for the windscreen frame are beginning to resolve nicely. Having finalised its rake and position, the individual spacing for the roof beams could then be finalised and it has all worked out rather well. The beams are now evenly spaced on 370mm centres, requiring nine beams, which is exactly the number I made in expectation so very long ago. Might have been planned that way - don't tell anyone.

The roof beam spacing is actually slightly wider than that of the galley and bedroom beams because it is not expected to carry the same load. I anticipate that it will carry only equipment such as solar panels, horns, lights, gangplank storage etc. and is not really intended for people, although it is quite strong enough to walk on.

All nine of the saloon roof beams are now in place. The front end of the carlins are still supported on temporary frames awaiting the real windscreen side frames, (called ‘muggins' I understand - although Dr Google doesn't seem to know about that).

The windscreen frame will be made of plywood and will have an opening hopper style window in the centre. This will require some thicker timber for the fame, but the strength will be in the plywood. One feature I have admired in older vessels and have found very useful, even on more modern ones, is a sun shade for the driver. So, I have always planned to extend the roof forward over the windscreen to create a brow or peak both as a sun visor and aesthetic device to extend the apparent length of the saloon. I am still concerned that because of the boat's shallow draft and resultant extra height above the water, it will look a bit like a block of flats; hardly elegant anyway!

I'm not quite sure yet how far the windscreen brow will extend in front of the windscreen, but I have allowed for a metre forward of the front roof beam at its maximum, acknowledging that it will ultimately be cut back to suit the final shape and curve of the windscreen. Despite extending a significant distance in front of the windscreen however, it would be nice if it were strong enough to be self-supporting. Accordingly, we have decided to make the brow with a 12mm thick inner shell, so that when the full saloon roof, which will also be 12mm thick, is added over the whole area, the brow itself will end up 25mm thick. This should make it more than strong enough, especially given that it has the same curved cross-sectional profile as the roof. (Incidentally, the curve of the roof is not a simple radius, it is actually a parabola and very strong - see previous discussions).

The inner brow has to be made on a mould to give it the correct curve. The mould has been made of chipboard and the brow, which will be laminated from three layers of 4mm plywood, is in the process of being assembled upon it. A single sheet of plywood is not wide enough to make the brow since it is 2700mm across, so two sheets have been cut to place the join in the centre. This will be routed out and glassed over eventually to make it invisible.

The second and third layers of the brow, each of 4mm plywood as well, are being laid diagonally for additional strength. Within a single sheet of plywood, the grain of each successive layer of timber is laid at 90° to its neighbours. This is what creates the additional strength of plywood, regardless of direction of stress, when compared with sawn timber. It is also why plywood invariably has an odd number of veneers, to ensure that the grain of both front and rear faces are in the same direction. Making the windscreen brow with so-called double diagonal planking at 45° will produce a much stronger result. The roof structure for the whole boat will be double diagonal planked for the same reason.

This was my first attempt at double diagonal planking and I hesitated because it looked to be very extravagant with plywood and therefore wasteful. In reality, that's not the case. I expected to have lots of small triangles left over, but of course when laying each square cut plank, it left a gap needing a small triangle just about the size of the ones I cut off - how ‘bout that? In fact, the wastage from double diagonal planking turned out to be absolutely minimal. Weird!

The temporary MDF sides for the boat have been very useful for planning the window shapes. Given that there are various "eye lines" along the side of the boat, it was not possible to line up all the window frames particularly between the bottom edge of the saloon and bedroom windows. Then I hit on the idea of making the bottom edge of the bathroom window into a slope. Obviously, it is not possible to have sliding glass in a trapezoidal window, but what if there were a divider across the window towards the top with sliding panels and fixed glass in the remainder? A quick visit to the very helpful folk at Complete Sliding Windows in Windsor Gardens confirmed that this approach was fine and he can provide frosted glass as well.

It is a sign of the length of time that this project has been running that the old gentleman with whom I was dealing at Complete Sliding Windows has passed away. Wherever you are Denis, I hope there's a decent view out of your window! It is fortunate that Denis' grandson Luke, has taken over the business and seems to be very keen to continue the wise and helpful service. Thanks guys.....

The deep blue laminate for the bathroom has turned up and looks very handsome. However, I've just realised that there's a small portion of bathroom wall yet to be completed. Oops! Actually, it's the bit behind the door that supports the door frame and it was not installed before, for a good reason. Behind the door I'm proposing to have a towel rail and I needed to know the dimensions of the rail before planning the door frame so that the door is able to open fully. All things are interdependent, which gave me a great excuse to buy the towel rail now and I just happened to see one on special - and it's electric too. How nice! Now, 70watts of 240volts shouldn't be so hard to find, should it?

2/8/2015 Mid-winter is a tough time to be building a boat. It's cold, wet and windy and epoxy glue is viscous and unfriendly to use. And, despite being kept in a heated cabinet and the ready use of a hairdryer, the glue still takes two days to go off. Motivation can also be a casualty of winter; enthusiasm seems to fade significantly when the daily maximum temperature is below 10°.

The windscreen brow is now finished and taken off the mould. Since it was 2700mm wide, it could not be made from a single sheet and has a join down the middle, which will be visible. The join also represents a weak spot that will very likely crack when the panel flexes in practice, so it has to be glassed. Since the fibre glass should not show on the finished panel, it has to be recessed in a 1.5 x 40mm deep slot over the join. This involves routing out the slot, laying the epoxy and glass and then sanding off the result to make it invisible. Another fine example of a day's work with absolutely nothing to be seen for it... Ah well!

The temporary MDF sides of the saloon have the proposed window outlines drawn in black Texta. This allows an opportunity for contemplation of both their practicality and aesthetic value before cutting real templates and committing significant time and dollars to having them made. It is also a great excuse to get on with something else whilst actively "contemplating", (or even inactively for that matter, when it's really cold). However, it has been useful, because I have decided that the windows would look better and be less prone to passing foot traffic damage, if their bottom edges were higher above the side decks. As a result, their clearance has been raised to 75mm. Since the side decks follow the sheer of the hull and therefore curve upward toward the bow of the boat whilst the bottom edges of the windows are straight, the 75mm is the minimum rather than the average.

Having made the brow for the main windscreen, as described above, it seemed that for consistency and good looks, the galley "windscreen" should have one too. The inverted commas are only because windscreens usually have glass in them to see through and whilst the galley front panel is windscreen shape, it is actually solid timber. OK, it has two vintage brass portholes (bought from a garage sale), and after all, a boat has to have "eyes" to see where it's going doesn't it?

Since the mould for the main windscreen brow was still sitting on the bench, it seemed a good time to make the galley brow as well. It is much smaller obviously, but the shape and diagonal planking techniques used to make it are identical. Aside from having to allow two days per layer for the epoxy to harden, it was quite a quick process as well.

As with all things, the real difficulties are in the detail. For the galley brow to sit under and therefore reinforce, the main galley roof, the upper edge of the front panel has to be 12mm below the roof line. Naturally, this hadn't been considered when the front of the galley was made, so a section 12mm wide has to be removed across the top of the three part sloping panel. Now, cutting timber at 22½° on the bench is not that difficult, but on a panel that's already installed in the vessel and is itself not flat, is a challenge to say the least. All of which is compounded by the fact that it has cross bracing glued in behind it and the whole thing is seven feet in the air! It took several cups of tea and some "active pondering" to come up with a way to remove the offending piece.

Sometime back, I decided to buy one of those special circular saws with two contra-rotating blades. I thought the scissor action might make it good for cutting plastic laminate sheet without chipping - it didn't!! However, it did actually turn out to be very useful for cutting 5mm aluminium sheet, but I digress... I purchased the saw around Fathers' Day and the local supplier was offering it as a "bundle", together with an oscillating flush cut saw as well, at no extra charge. Now, I had no real use for the oscillating saw, but hey, it was free so why not? As it has turned out, the oscillating saw has been very useful and just about the only tool capable of meeting some situations.

There's more digressions in the last two paragraphs than Billy Connolly describing a colonoscopy, which is also topical on a personal level this week as it turns out, but let's not go into that! So, to traipse back to the point, the oscillating flush cut saw turned out to be the ideal tool to remove the top edge of the galley windscreen panel ready to accommodate the brow. The resulting cut did turn out a bit rough and ready, but more because of "operator error" than any failing of the equipment. However, the old adage "Bog is your Friend" came to mind so, I made up a small mould from scrap MDF and tape and bogged up the ugly bits. Now the galley windscreen brow is installed and looks very handsome.

The underfloor area in the bathroom has been sanded and finished off ready for painting. The stainless steel grate has been fitted on to the support frames and all the plywood end-grains in the access holes, lined with epoxy and sanded. Whilst considering the ventilation requirements for the bathroom underfloor area, I realised that I could fit another bilge blower (you know the ones that actually suck instead of blow), and not only ventilate the bathroom underfloor, but the aft end of the gearbox area too. The result is that the engine/gearbox bay now has bilge blowers at both ends, which is twice as good and for a petrol powered vessel - an all-around very good idea! The air intake in the front of the engine bay will serve that area and the triangular trunk in the shower, left open at the top, will serve as the air intake for the rear of engine bay.

It turns out that I was able to quite easily lay a 75mm PVC pipe from the back of the engine/gearbox bay, through the bathroom underfloor area and through to the bottom of the wardrobe in the bedroom. The wardrobe includes an area up against the hull on the Port side and originally, it was simply going to be covered with a panel to hide the ugly bits. However, having cut yet another hole through the hull and made a mounting block and gasket for the bilge blower, it will hide that unit too. Actually, there will also be some hoses in that area too, for the fresh water tank filler and overflow, but they should all fit quite nicely in the end and be completely out of sight.

Since the original intention was to actively ventilate the bathroom underfloor area, the new 75mm pipe from the back of the gearbox bay has a 100x6mm slot cut along the lowest point on its way through the bathroom. This allows it to take 13.5% of its air volume from there, whilst still taking the majority from the gearbox bay. This should help keep the bathroom underfloor area clear of condensation, fumes and mould.

Considering that I thought I had nothing much to report today, it seems to have easily filled another page or three! There's no sympathy - poor reader.......

20/09/2015 The brow for the galley roof is now glassed in and faired. One might even use the "f" word, since it is complete, but let's not tempt the Gods of Fate and Redesign and "yet to be discovered" cock ups. I must say it looks very stylish.

I was thinking that the next major step for the galley is to install its roof. However, on the basis that some remaining jobs inside the galley are more easily undertaken before the roof goes on, I have started sanding and finishing the roof beams and the is some painting to be completed as well. And, I still hate painting, but there's not much choice.

Another issue with putting the roof on the galley is that without the windows, it will be very, very dark inside! So, biting another bullet and committing to shape and size, I took a jigsaw to the walls of the galley and cut out the window holes. And, very handsome they look too, which is just as well I suppose.

The plan for interior lighting throughout the boat is to use LED strip lights concealed on ledges built into all the roof beams and reflect the light off the white painted ceilings. Since the finished windscreen brow is now sitting on top of the saloon roof, as much for somewhere convenient to put it as anything else, it has become like a temporary roof section. This has provided an opportunity to put some LED strips in place to gauge whether the lighting plan is effective - and it turns out that it works very well. (Which is a relief, really)!

LED strips are available in a number of configurations. There are three different powers, different numbers of LEDs per metre and waterproof or not. There are also a complete rainbow of colour options available and LEDs that change colour, flash, chase each other and do any of the above in time with your music if you so wish. All of which is very tempting, but I have been really boring and elected to go with the lower power LEDs (3528) for their reduced current consumption at a density of 60 diodes/metre for a more even light distribution. I selected Warm White in an 8mm width with waterproof cover. It is interesting to note that the very first 5 metre LED strips that I bought five years, or so ago, as an experiment were almost $50 each, now the same things are $8. How quickly the prices fall once high volume manufacturing gets underway. (Or is that "under weigh")?

In order to get power to the LED lights being mounted on each roof beam, I had left a 10x10mm "channel" in all the roof "joists" or carlins. The idea was to drill an out-of-sight angled hole from the carlin to the roof beam ledge and thread the wire through, but it quickly became obvious that this would be impossible once the roof is in place. So, yet another "preparatory" job is required - which is now completed.

On the subject of lights, I have always fancied a hanging lantern swinging gently over the dining table in the saloon during intimate dinners; very nautical..... So in order to get power to such a light, I had proposed to simply cut a groove in the upper surface of the relevant roof beam so that the wire was hidden once the saloon roof was in place. The problem here is where is the "relevant" place? Well, in the middle of the dining table of course. Yes, but think this through - where is the dining table going to be? Well, just out from the dinette seats I suppose - yes, how far out exactly and, by the way, how wide will the dinette be? You know, the one you haven't built yet...... well you get the idea - and another blind arse guess goes into the purportedly sophisticated design mix. (Like a lot of "Good Designs" I suspect - it's just the quality of the guesses that changes)

Continuing the theme of "what's required before fitting the roof" (and the cabin sides for that matter), the back wall of the bedroom is another area that has been studiously ignored for quite some months. The roof beams are all in place of course, but their rear supporting structure, which should be the rear wall of the bedroom, is still just two bits of temporary chipboard frame. The back wall is made up of the bed head and a panel above the bedhead, which is sloped forward slightly like a windscreen in reverse and made in three panels to give it some shape.

The centre of the panel above the bedhead is stained, clear finished timber matching other areas of the boat, whilst the slightly angled panels on either side will be white painted and have windows fitted. The plan at present is to make a pair of stained glass windows, because I've made stained windows before and it seems completely ridiculous and "over the top" for a boat, which really appeals to me. Odd - I know!

The stained centre panel is made, stained and finished ready to install. It consists of two layers of 12mm ply, making 25mm, which is strong enough to support the proposed steps, outside the boat, leading from the transom to the sundeck. There are also grooves milled in between the two panels to conceal the wiring for the bedside reading lights.

Bedside reading lights are usually mounted wider than and slightly above the bed and shine in toward the centre, which has always puzzled me. My observation is that if one person is reading and the other is trying to sleep, then your reading light is shining directly toward your partner's eyes, which is daft. I have put the reading lights in the middle of the bedhead, shining outward in the hope that shining away from my partner will be more comfortable - we'll see...

Having priced reading lights in marine chandlery stores and been appalled, I bought two (four actually - hang the expense) from a market for the princely sum of $2 each. Which did involve the additional expense of $2 for warm daylight LED globes. As you see - nothing is too good for this boat...

The lower bedhead is stained and clear finished and although it was made quite some time ago, it hadn't been installed until this week for reasons that aren't quite clear any more. It is in three parts; the two outer portions are now permanently glued into the boat and act not only the bedhead covering the area above the pillows and bedside tables etc., but also close off the parts of the transom that are accessible from outside the vessel - the lazarette. There are two lockers for removable petrol tanks of 25l each and two lockers to stow mooring lines and get them off the deck.

The centre bedhead panel however, is removable. It gives access to a storage area, which whilst it is an odd shape, is quite large. I imagine it will be useful for spare pillows, blankets etc. Originally, I was going to hinge it along its bottom edge, but then I realised that it then couldn't be opened without shifting the mattress - not so good! The solution is to not make it a hinged fixture, but to have it simply fit into a couple of slots and able to be lifted completely clear when required. All three bedhead panels are now fitted, stained and clear finished.

All this staining made me realise that the stain on the walls of the passage between the bedroom and the saloon, which I had not yet got around to clear finishing, had faded. It's a water based stain, so perhaps the humidity affects it? It's unlikely to be UV light, since there's no natural light in the shed. Whatever the reason, it looked very dull and uninteresting, so I decided to re-stain the whole area. It didn't take very long and certainly brought the colour back. I will varnish both walls, to finally seal them, next week.

One area of Rhapsody that won't be stained is the outside of the coach house. I long ago accepted that my carpentry isn't good enough to allow for clear finishing. So, the plan is paint the outside to look like a clear finish - if only from a distance. (Yeah - like a couple of miles, I hear you say).... Anyway, I went to see my friendly and very helpful mate, Des Strudwick at Seahorse Paints and gave him a sample of a properly stained panel and said "Some paint about that colour please Des". He looked sceptical and I explained what I wanted. He came up with a few colour charts and we agreed on a tasty shade of light brown that I hope looks like a honey finish on Hoop Pine and not like the inside of my Grandson's nappy, but again, we'll see.... And, how do whole peas get into the nappy, why don't they digest? Oh, sorry - I digress...

A call from Philip Mathews at C. E. & A. last week announced that my new (and 460mm longer) prop shaft had been born and was ready for collection. Now this creates a problem because, as I've noted elsewhere, I have had to part with my trusty Subaru Ute - the one with the extended carry bars, and I can't transport a 3600mm shaft on my new 1800mm trailer.

No problem. Moose to the rescue, as always, with a 7 metre boat trailer that has a flat enclosed area (and no boat on it), that would be just fine. So the new shaft has now had a very comfortable ride down to the boat shed, together with the similarly extended stern tube and it all looks terrific - although I haven't actually had the courage to try it yet... In the end, it was altogether a very expensive error!!!

There is some work to do under the hull to make the hole for the stern tube big enough. When I made what you would call the stern post I suppose, I thought to leave a hole for the stern tube to pass through, which would have been much cleverer if I'd made it big enough! Quite how we're going to now enlarge a 250mm deep hole by 6mm is not clear - better put the kettle on and have a think about it.

Another ongoing concern has been the fore and aft balance or trim, of the boat, which for a Tunnel Stern design is very important if it is to work properly. The Centre of Buoyancy according to the hull design software, is about under the engine and main petrol tank, which is fine. However, there is a lot of weight ahead of that point, such as up to a tonne of black water just in front and even further forward are the fridge, stove and gas bottles.

One major item that is yet to be sited is the boat's battery packs and given that they represent a significant weight, it presents an opportunity to balance things up a bit. The battery pack is made up of two groups of six separate 2 volt cells in series, each rated at 250Ah. The two groups of six are then connected in parallel, making 12 volts at 500Ah in all and weighing in at 156Kg. So, where best to put them? I have now realised that they will fit under the bed at the extreme stern of the vessel, which is very convenient. However, access is a bit of a nuisance because the mattress will need to be moved to get to them, but with AGM "maintenance free" batteries, that shouldn't be too often - right? Hmm. The other issue is that whilst AGM batteries are supposedly "sealed", under extreme circumstances they can release a gas, which is hydrogen of course - nasty stuff in a confined space (No Hindenburgs here thankyou)! So, the battery boxes have to be vented and after some deliberation, I have realised that there is a 50mm space alongside the bedside cabinet drawers that will allow a venting trunk to be made to connect to the transom and out to the big blue yonder. It will be a tight fit, but it should be workable.

The only other disadvantage of that location for batteries is the length (and cost) of the cables necessary to get power to and from the remainder of the boat without too much voltage drop. The highest power device is the 2.5Kw, 240volt inverter, so that may have to be mounted down aft somewhere, which of course raises cooling issues etc. etc. It also begs the question "Perhaps it would be better to have a number of smaller inverters instead"? It wouldn't be such an efficient arrangement, but it would avoid huge cables carrying 200Amps+ running around and provide some redundancy in case of a failure, which might make it a nett gain in the end.

Another cup of tea and "ponder" job. It never ends.

25/09/2015 The passage walls have now been clear finished with three coats of satin polyurethane and very handsome they look too. Various other laminated uprights and roof beams have been clear finished as well on the basis that it easier now than after the roof and walls go on. After a bit more sanding and cleaning up, the remaining roof beams will be next.

The upright laminated beam in the aft starboard corner of the saloon has been installed now as well and is ready for clear finishing. It had to be installed before the saloon walls, and although it has been made for some time, I've delayed putting it in, because it is just by the access steps and a natural handhold for "gluey" hands when getting in and out of the boat. I'll have to wrap it in Cling Wrap, or something!

It's a scary realisation that I'm now ready for all the coach house sides. The saloon walls are 3m long and therefore require 1½ sheets of ply to be scarfed together and the aft coach house is 4.5m, which will just come out of 2 full sheets scarfed together happily. I don't have room in the shed to layout two full sheets, so we'll have to wait for a convenient moment to do that in the other shed, where there's a bit more room.

The interior lighting plan all along has been to have LED strips hidden in the roof beams as mentioned above. When making the beams (joists) that hold the roof beams I left a 10mm x 10mm channel for the light wiring so that it could be concealed. Another job before the roof goes on is to drill all the odd angled holes to get the wires from their hidden channel up to the ledge on each roof beam. Drill one hole down at a funny angle and another up at a similarly odd angle and they should meet in the middle to allow the wire to be threaded through. All good in theory and surprise, surprise it actually worked in practice too, which is a relief really...

The back of the bedroom roof has been held in place for many months by a couple of temporary chipboard frames. Now the centre panel of the rear "windscreen" is ready for installation, of course, the frames are in the wrong place and in the way. So, we better remake them and move them to a better spot and once a little more painting is finished (because it will be really hard to do afterwards) the stained back panel can be installed. Another hidden channel for the reading light wiring had to be made too with the trusty router.

Actually, it's not a trusty router any more - it's in the rubbish bin! One of the armature windings finally burnt out and it's not worth repairing, which is a pity since it was a Bosch dating from the time when they were still made in Switzerland. Anyway, off to buy a new, cheap Chinese router. One that comes in a lovely case with more accessories than I know what to do with plus 15 router bits, all for the princely sum of $100, which includes a three year warranty. Incredible!

Since I now have the drive line hardware back from Philip Mathews, it is time to start installing the last of the machinery. When I built the hull I made a stern post to terminate the ends of the plywood in the tunnel. It is 150mm deep plus another 20mm or so from the hull planks. Knowing that the prop shaft had to go through the stern post, I left what I hoped would be a suitable sized hole to ease the line boring task. I didn't have the stern tube at that time, so I left a 50x50mm hole - the real stern tube is 54x54 so, close, but no cigar!

However, the existing hole did give me a start and a line, so laying under the hull, I can actually see the back of the gearbox, which is itself, a bit of a relief really. The hole for the stern tube needs to be big enough to allow space for a glue bed to surround and seal it, so I've drilled it at 63mm. This is not the most pleasant job in building a boat. Laying under the hull amongst the sawdust and spiders, with your head on an ice cream container, drilling a 170mm deep hole with a hole saw that skips and jams at the least provocation, is a real "pain". I'm glad that's finished!!!

On the up side, the stern tube now fits in the hull and I can still see the back of the gearbox, so the alignment must be almost adequate. Now to try the prop shaft and see if the Mark II is long enough, I do hope so......

Another upside I realised this week is that the weight of the drive gear is significant from a ballast and trim point of view. Just the prop shaft alone weighs a bit over 22Kg and then the stuffing box, stern tube and propeller add another 35Kg. The rudder stock, rudder shaft and rudder still have to be added in there as well of course, and all that weight is just where is does the most good, right at the stern and very low down. All the better to keep the Centre of Gravity as low as possible for maximum stability, which is always a concern with shallow draft hulls.

7/10/2015 Another old friend, who has watched the building of Rhapsody with some interest, passed away last week. So, another funeral and another reminder that I'd better hurry up and finish this thing! RIP Rex, old friend.

After dry fitting the stern tube, I was able to try the new propeller shaft and was very relieved to be able to confirm that it fits perfectly. The horizontal alignment of the shaft to the engine was very close as well. After some "persuading" with a long lever to move the engine slightly on its mounts, it aligns very nicely. The adjustment in the vertical plane is made by adjusting nuts on the engine mounts and is also pretty close. I'll redo the adjustments in both directions with a feeler gauge once the stern tube is glued in, but it looks really promising.

Installing the propeller shaft, which is 3600mm long, is a challenge because the sliding doors of the shed don't move sufficiently in either direction to give clear access to the back of the boat. So, a lateral solution is to drill a hole in door, easy! Lying in the engine space with a torch shining down the stern tube paints a perfect "target" on the inside of the door for the hole "et voilà".

I decided to make an alignment tool to help with the installation of the stern tube. I bought a piece of Nylon rod and turned it down to the exact size of the prop shaft and fitted it into the Tufnol bearing. Then I bought a laser pointer and turned out the centre of the Nylon rod to take the pointer. Now, I thought, when the stern tube is aligned correctly, the laser will point at the exact centre of the gearbox shaft - perfect! Err, well - no! It turns out that the laser diode inside its own casing is not aligned with its body. So, although the pointer body is aligned correctly, the laser beam is shining off to one side, which rather defeats the point of the exercise. Hmm......

In the bow of the boat is the storage area for two 9kg gas bottles. I had seen other boats with combination regulator and automatic changeover valves, which seemed a good idea. So, imagine my surprise when visiting a local (and very well known) caravan fit-out and accessory shop to be told that there was "no such thing Mate". The shop assistant argued with me that there was no two bottle set up that would automatically change from one bottle to other when the first is empty. Or course, he's wrong and I was able to show him a suitable unit in his own Camec catalogue. After much huffing and keyboard pounding he came up with a price too, $149. I thanked him for his "assistance" and went straight home and on to eBay and bought one from Melbourne for $97. It arrived three days later and is just the thing.

The stern tube comes out of the back of the hull where the hull tapers to a fine point. So, to streamline the water flow around the tube's exit from the hull and on to the boss of the propeller, it needs a "bullet" shaped piece added to the hull. I have glued up three thicknesses of Oregon and once it's had a day or two to harden, it's headed for the lathe to see if we can make something suitable.

The last item on the "shopping list" from Philip is the bottom rudder pintle stay. It's essentially a piece of stainless steel that is attached to the bottom of the back of the hull and runs backwards to hold the bottom rudder pintle in the right place. It also protects the bottom of the propeller and rudder from grounding on sandbanks, snags and even the odd ferry cable. The issue is that once the stern tube is in place I won't have room to be able to drill suitable mounting holes. So, a bit more measuring, a detailed drawing and back to Philip to work some more of his magic.

6/11/2015 The streamlining piece for the stern tube's exit from the hull was made from three large pieces of Oregon glued together and then turned down in the lathe to make a suitable cowling. It is now complete, but not fitted. It has to be solidly glassed and it seems easier to do that on the bench before installation.

I'm actually ready to scarf up the coach house sides, but I'm still waiting for enough clear space in the other shed to layout and join two full sheets of plywood. We'll get there and it's not as though there isn't other stuff to do! The job pretty much immediately after the coach house sides are the saloon and bedroom roofs and some more preparation is required there too.

Particularly, each roof has to have a king plank down its centre to allow for a little "re-alignment" of the roof beams when fitting the roof, otherwise known "make the bastards fit". The king plank also serves to hide the join in the plywood sheets that make up the roof, since the area is too large to cover with a single sheet. The king planks were cut from a Meranti board to a finished size of 100x16 and then provided with a smooth routed edge. (The first run of the shiny new Chinese router - works well too)! Attacking each of my lovely laminated roof beams with a circular saw and router to cut a row of half lap joints seemed like sacrilege, but once the king planks were fitted, they looked great.

Now the manufacture of all the roof components is complete, it seems a reasonable plan to clear finish each of them before the roof goes on, whilst access is still relatively easy. Of course, nothing is that simple. Each end of each roof beam is fitted into a carlin using a canted half lap joint. Not the easiest of joints to make, but very strong, particularly once the roof is glued on. Since the joints are awkward to make, some don't fit quite as well as one might have liked, and although "Bog Is Your Friend", it still leaves a lot of cleaning up to do. This involves many hours in tight corners with a mouse sander, working overhead with aching arms in a perpetual shower of dust. Now, the normal dust mask stops you breathing too much rubbish, but it doesn't keep it out of your eyes, ears, hair etc. etc. So, out with the trusty full face pressurised helmet - easy! Well no, not quite...

The Triton pressurised helmet breathing apparatus, come ear protection unit was used extensively whilst the hull was being sanded and faired, but hasn't been used much since. It was stored under the boat out of the way, which would have been fine except that half the local mouse population seem to have deemed it a fine nesting place in the meantime. Even that wouldn't have been so bad except that they seem to have taken particular exception to the foam lining of the ear muffs, which were chewed to a fine rubber dust and then used as a toilet. And, the smell.... If you were actually going to put your head inside it and expect to breathe clean air or breathe at all for that matter, think again! So, the whole thing had to be dismantled and new linings made for the ear muffs. All of the soft material parts had to be taken home to the washing machine and the rest of the unit soaked in disinfectant. As I've said many times here, ‘One thing always leads to another'.

Finally, the joints were all clean and clear finishing could start. I actually coated the galley roof beams with epoxy preservative quite some time back. It is excellent stuff, but it leaves a really rough, hard surface, which is fine from a preservative perspective, but it's not a nice surface for clear urethane finishing. There was a significant amount of sanding required to bring it back to a good surface and as a result, I decided not to epoxy finish the saloon or bedroom roof beams, but just paint them with clear polyurethane. The bathroom is a slightly different proposition however, because it is a "wet area" and the woodwork will be exposed to steam and high humidity much of the time. So, the bathroom roof beams have been painted with epoxy preservative and then sanded before finishing with clear urethane.

The roof beams, all 29 of them, have now had three coats of Cabot's Marine Grade clear satin polyurethane. The first coat was thinned considerably to allow it to better soak into the timber and now they are finished, they look terrific. The extra effort of laminating the beams from two different coloured timbers has paid off handsomely. Well worth the effort!

Making the king planks involved cutting up a 4 metre length of Meranti. I then realised that the left over plank was not far off the right size to make the door jamb and wardrobe corner post mouldings for the bathroom and wardrobe doors and since we now have a shiny new router, it seemed like the basis of a plan. It's odd that you put off jobs because they seem difficult or fiddly and then when you actually make a start, they're finished in just a couple of hours. There's a lesson in there somewhere... Anyway, the mouldings are all made and the wardrobe corner post is installed ready for the final piece of bathroom wall. A "tomorrow" job.

Part of fitting the brow over the (non-glass) galley windscreen involved moving the fridge out of the way. It's a normal two door domestic fridge/freezer except that it runs on 12 volts. One thing to which I hadn't given much thought was the fact that it's on rollers to simplify moving, which is great, but not actually all that helpful on a boat! So, after tipping the unit over and removing the, in this application at least, offending rollers, I then had to make a base board to which the fridge could be bolted. Of course, the fridge only has rollers at the back and they're a different height to the feet at the front, so the baseboard can't be flat. Nothing's ever straightforward. Grr!

And finally for this report, a serious affirmation of the adage "You get what you pay for". The electrical plan for the boat is for all equipment to operate on 12 volts, (aside from my electric blanket - wimp, I know), from house batteries charged by solar panels and/or the engine alternator. I had the opportunity to obtain two used 80 watt panels and thought that was terrific. However, sometime later, when I actually checked the power consumption of the fridge and various bilge pumps and other equipment, I realised that a total of 160 watts would not be enough. So, I bought two 200 watt panels (new this time - better have a lie down...), providing 400 watts, which will be more than adequate.

Problem solved? Not quite! Since the larger panels produce significantly more power, the existing solar controller unit purchased earlier, is no longer adequate. There is a lengthy and excruciating diatribe about different types of solar panel controllers elsewhere in this fine document, so I won't repeat it here. There dear reader, how kind is that?

Suffice to say that the American made 15 amp, "top of the range" Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controller I purchased originally was about $300. Now, faced with having to buy a much bigger 40 amp unit, I baulked at the prices (around $900+) and bought a cheap unit through eBay instead. Quite some time later, whilst browsing the Web looking for something else, I happened across a picture of the cheap eBay solar controller I had bought, where someone was claiming that it was actually a fake, i.e. that it did not contain the sophisticated MPPT electronics that it was supposed to have!

I have an electrical engineering background, so I very quickly ripped the back off my cheap eBay controller and sure enough, the case was almost empty. It had very few components inside and certainly not enough to provide the full MPPT function I was expecting (it was actually just a simple PWM circuit, which is OK, but only 70% efficient at best). The deception then became clear. The cheap unit's model number was "MPPT30", but nowhere in the documentation, when you really look, did it actually say that it provided the full MPPT functionality - very tricky to say the least, if not downright fraudulent!!!

So, back to the Internet to find a "real" MPPT controller that I could afford that would handle 40 amps. One use of YouTube that I hadn't previously considered is that some kind folk buy things and review them, even to the point of dismantling them and showing you the insides, which is very, very useful. I settled on a unit from EPSolar, a Taiwanese company that seems to have a great reputation and with some trepidation, placed another order through eBay. It was $300, which was a lot more than the "fake" unit had cost. However, it is now setup in a test rig and seems like an outstanding device that does exactly what it claimed to do. So, not everything from eBay is good, but not everything is bad either. It is simply "Buyer Beware" as always and you still get what you pay for in the end...

21/11/2015 The High-Build primer has been applied to the galley ceiling panels and shiny white gloss two-pack polyurethane purchased. I decided to try using a roller rather than spraying simply because of the tedious masking/overspray issues, but of course, now I need different thinners, so back to my mate Des at Seahorse Paints. (Interesting to note that the term "ceiling" on a boat properly refers to the linings on the walls of the hull - I wonder what you call the bit that's over your head to keep the rain out? Needless to say, we won't be adopting that terminology here)!

The saloon and bedroom topside panels have been scarfed together and using the templates, have been trimmed and had the windows apertures cut-out. The pieces removed from the window holes on the Port side are now the actual templates for the manufacture of the windows. Accordingly, they have been taken to Complete Sliding Windows at Windsor Gardens to start the process of making the windows. Now, I just need to know the cost - Argh!!!!!!!

The last section of wall for the passage in the middle of the boat, that is the piece aft of the bathroom door (which also completes the bathroom walls), has been installed. The same piece also forms the starboard side wall of the wardrobe. Only one piece remains to complete the wardrobe and that is a little section of wall that is only 40 mm wide, but is needed to separate the wardrobe door jamb from the corner post. Both these walls sections have been glassed on one side and stained and clear finished on the other. All this was done on the bench (much easier) and now they are both installed as well. The wardrobe doors are too tall by about 400mm so there is still a bit of work to do there, but otherwise the outside of the wardrobe is more or less finished. (There's that "F" word again! Hmm).

Now that the saloon sides are made and have been dry-fitted it is time to seriously address the issue of an access door for the boat. The original plan was to build it into the starboard, aft saloon window space, but it turns out that there are a number of issues with that idea. The plus side was that the sheer line is lower at that point and therefore, nearer the water or a dock, than the door would be if it were in the forward window space. The downsides are that a set of steps or a ladder are still needed to get down from the sheer line into the boat. My partner quickly made her view of a ladder very plain and she's right - so that's out. However, a flight of steps to descend the necessary 700mm odd also extends out a fair way out into the saloon floor area and, to make matter worse, gets in the way of the bottom of the sun-deck stairs as well. Not good.

So, a change of plan, let's move the access door to the forward window space, still on the starboard side. A couple of advantages are quickly apparent. Firstly, it doesn't get in the way of anything much except the helmsman's seat and being near the helm position is actually handy for the poking out of heads during manoeuvres Casey Jones style. Also, any proposed sliding door, if it is left open, doesn't obstruct the ventilation arrangements for the Hot Water Service, which is a bonus. Then came what I hope turns out to be, one of those inspirational moments. Considering the issue of the floor space needed for a staircase and the fact that the helmsman's seat is in the way - could the two things be combined? A doodle on a spare piece of timber over a cup of tea, then led to the development of a design for a "folding" staircase. When it's folded up, as it would be most of the time, it is simply part of the helmsman's seat. When access to the outside of the vessel is required the top of the helmsman's seat folds down and becomes a flight of steps. This all relies on the idea that you wouldn't really want to be doing the two things at the same time of course.

A pattern for the folding seat/steps unit was cut out of some scrap MDF and put in the boat for further consideration. On first look, it seems to have real possibilities - I'm not quite sure whether we can have a rail as well and where that might go, but we'll see. Moose's reaction was "Hmm - very tricky". Now, I'm not sure whether that's good or not, but we'll think about it some more.

If the folding steps work (or even they don't), the access door for the boat is now going to be built into the front window, on the starboard side of the saloon. This decision alters the window design a bit because it now has to have a big chunk cut out of the middle and door pillars fitted to allow for what will almost certainly now, be a sliding door. The remaining window areas still need to be glazed, although they will be quite small pieces that are non-opening and won't need aluminium frames. It is an irony that with a 600mm section remove from the side wall to allow room for the door, the side panel could have been cut from a single 2400mm sheet and the last of the four scarf long joints was unnecessary. Hmmm ...

A part of the saloon roof above the access door will need to be removed as well to provide adequate headroom to use the steps without banging heads. Since it also has to be able to be closed up to keep the rain out, a hatch is required. The plan is for a sliding hatch of course, but building a hatch that is light enough to operate easily and smoothly and doesn't leak, is a challenge of its own. I suspect that another whole paragraph or three, will ultimately be dedicated to the construction of "The Hatch" in due course ...

Happy Days...

31/12/2015 OK - the last post for the year. Given that it's New Year's Eve, I suppose it would be hard for it to be otherwise.

The big achievement for the last couple of weeks has been the move to a new Website, but you know that - since you're reading it. The old site was hosted on a computer belonging to my son and was getting very ancient by computing standards - that's the computer, not my son! The machine was actually not the problem. The server software from Microsoft is so old now that it is not being supported anymore and indeed, the new Edge browser in Windows 10 wouldn't allow me to update the site without sneaking up on it a bit. It was only a matter of time before that window (pun intended) closed on me.

I maintain other web sites in a volunteer capacity and the way one of them was structured struck me as being able to be converted to present "Rhapsody's" site content. It uses all public domain Style Sheets and doesn't require any clever server software - ideal. However, the conversion took quite some time because it's all hand coded in HTML and I'm a bit slow these days.

Still, it's all done and is now hosted on a machine in Saudi Arabia (I think), but it presents well and seems to work just fine. So, thanks to James for hosting "Rhapsody" for the last eight years or so - well done!!

We are having a very hot spell of weather at present, so working in an iron shed has not been a very attractive proposition. 40 degrees outside usually means 45, or more, inside, which is most unpleasant.

However, the side walls of the saloon have been trimmed and dry fitted and with the decision mentioned above, to move the access door, new door jambs have been constructed. It is easier to paint these parts before they are installed so that's underway. Both sides have been soaked in preservative and had the first of two coats of High Build applied. Now they, together with the galley ceiling panels are ready for their coats of gloss white. Next job.

The last piece of wall in the bathroom has been the piece behind the door. It was dry-fitted some time back and has been stained and clear finished before final fitting, and it looks terrific. The floor to ceiling joint between the panels behind the door is a bit of a taper. The passage wall isn't quite upright and although I don't quite know why or how that happened, there's no way I'm going to try and fix it. No one will notice anyway... However, it does have to be sealed ready for the Laminex, so yesterday I filled it full of epoxy against a mould, which should hide the problem nicely. I can't put an epoxy fillet or fibreglass in the corner because it needs to be square for the Laminex to fit snugly, so I have filleted the other side, which is in the wardrobe of course. That fillet is massive and is taped with 635 gsm glass as well, so it shouldn't crack in a hurry.

So, that finishes up the year nicely. More boat building next year and now I have a deadline. Having finally, after sixteen years, proposed to my Partner Julie, Rhapsody will make a great base for a honeymoon.

Happy 2016 to all.

6/01/2016 OK, a New Year and time to get into serious boat building. The hot spell seems to have subsided a little for the moment, so work can re-start. (Although, the forecast for tomorrow is 38 - Grrr).

The top to bottom joint in the corner of the bathroom wall behind the door, with the unfortunate taper, was sealed with epoxy last time. A length of angle iron was used as a mould to keep it to the right profile. It turns out that it wasn't too successful, because when the mould was removed, there was a fair amount of "squeeze out", which is a nuisance. Given that it was done before Christmas, the epoxy had time to set really hard and a chisel and mallet was required to remove the offending material. Not to mention the hour or so it took to do, and then more time to sand the mess to a smooth enough finish to stick on the Laminex in due course. So, another five-minute job that took hours!!!

The wardrobe, aside from the doors, which still have to be shortened, is more or less complete. All the door jambs are glued in and sanded and the first two layers of clear finish applied. The joints between the jambs and the wall panels have been filleted to provide a little extra strength and tidy up all the joints. The bottom pivots needed to hang the doors are missing, so two sets have been ordered. The cedar bi-fold door set was bought from the local second-hand centre for $5, but the hinges cost $54. Humph! Not so cheap after all!

The inside surfaces of the wardrobe have had wood preservative applied ready for painting white. It's starting to look really good and we might even have to consider using the "F" word soon...

I decided to paint the inside surfaces of the saloon walls on the bench before installing them, it's much easier to paint a horizontal surface than it is a vertical one. The ceiling panels for the galley were ready for painting as well, so we may as well do them all at once. All the areas that will be used to glue the panels into the boat were masked off and the remainder sanded and filled ready for painting.

The usual coats of timber preservative and Hi-Build primer were applied using a fabric roller. The paint was not sanded back between each layer - big mistake! The resulting surface had a very deep "orange peel" finish and was not really suitable for a gloss top coat. However, impatience and laziness won out and I decided to apply the top coat anyway. I had not used gloss polyurethane before and whilst mixing the two components, was somewhat surprised at its low viscosity. Had I been spraying the finish, I would have added 20%-30% thinners, but since I was applying it with a brush, thought it was thin enough already. Quite wrongly, as it turns out.

There are two types of thinners for polyurethane finishes, one for spraying and the other for brushing. The difference is the speed at which they evaporate or "flash-off". For spray applications, the thinners must flash-off very quickly and allow the paint to dry without delay, to avoid runs etc. For brushing, the thinners must actually slow the drying rate of the basic paint, to allow time for the brush marks to flatten out before it hardens. By using no thinners, the paint dried much too quickly and the surface was awful!

The other variable was that I had decided to use a roller instead of a brush. After some earlier research, I had found short haired mohair rollers were recommended for gloss finishes as well as dense foam rollers, although there was some concern that the chemical composition of the paint would attack and destroy a foam roller, (not true - as I have since discovered). Whilst rollers are very efficient at covering large areas, they do leave a distinctive "pattern" in the finish.

So, I had made two major errors. The first was to not sand the jobs properly between coats. The second was to not use the any thinners. As you might expect, the result is not good. So the job for today has been to sand it all off and start again. Very "character building", as they say. It would want to be something because it's actually not very amusing... Still, you have to find an upside if you can, so it is very reassuring to find how bloody tough that polyurethane paint is to sand off, because once it's re-done properly, it should last for ever!!!

Another major milestone this week was the final receipt of the quote for the making of the windows. It ended up slightly less than I had budgeted for, which is always nice. I had asked Luke at Complete Sliding Windows to quote me on blue tinted glass, but it turned out to be 90% more expensive than standard grey tint, so guess what...... Being a cheapskate, I have given Luke the "go ahead" based on grey tint glass and he says that they will be finished by the end of February, which is just fine.

27/01/2016 It was "Australia Day" yesterday and there were lots of flags and celebrations up on the River. We were giving cruises to large numbers of tourists on an 1897 paddle steamer, which was good fun!

A small job that has been only half finished for reasons that aren't too clear, is the painting of the underfloor area of the bathroom. I hate painting, as I may have mentioned just once or twice before, so that's probably one reason. The other is that it's a particularly rotten job. Painting below floor level means working head down and tail up in a fog of polyurethane fumes without ventilation and to make matters worse, much of it has to be done with a mirror to be able to see what you're doing on the underside areas of the floor. Not good! Anyway, all finished now.

More painting effort centres around the wardrobe. All the clear finish work is now completed as well and it's looking really good. I still have to make a lower sill to hold the gold plated (read - very expensive) bottom bi-fold hinges (which have since arrived) and then a top panel to hide the 10mm aluminium channel I bought to act as a guide for the sliding door hinges. The top "sill" or lintel for the wardrobe doors also has to account for the fact that the roof above is curved and slopes up towards the middle of the boat as well. It has to end up bringing the whole wardrobe door opening back to square with the floor, for the doors to work properly.

I described in the last posting about re-painting saloon sides to try and get an acceptable gloss finish. The latest attempt has been to use a thinned (to slow its setting rate) Hi-Build polyurethane undercoat applied with a short haired mohair roller. The gloss coat was then applied with a high density foam roller. Each coat was given a very light sand with 240 paper and the result is, by my standards, terrific. (Almost acceptable by anyone else's)

Once the paint on the inside faces of the saloon sides was dry, the masking tape over the areas that were to be glued could be removed, albeit with some difficulty. To stop glue squeezing out during installation onto the newly painted areas, they then had to be masked up yet again, but in different places of course, this time to protect the new paint. The saloon sides are now completely installed and all the masking tape very quickly removed to avoid a repeat of the problems of masking tape removal last time.

The opening for the main access door into the boat has been built into the Starboard forward window space. It will have a 600mm sliding door in due course and the bits of the window opening not being used for the door have to be glazed with tinted glass to match the remainder of the windows. MDF patterns were made of the openings and they have been passed on to Complete Sliding Windows to be cut.

5/02/2016 The aft cabin sides have been dry fitted, which sounds quite straight forward. However, the first problem is that I can't lift them, well, not five feet in the air anyway. (Oh! OK - 1.5m). So, a rope over a roof beam seemed like a good idea. Actually, it was!

The portside cabin side panel, having had a taper planed along its bottom edge to account for the slope in the cabin sides, was hoisted to the required height and dropped into place with relatively little problem. Given that that was the side of the boat I had used to make the template from which the side panels were both cut, you could be forgiven for expecting it to fit properly. Me, I've been around myself making things for far too long to expect anything of the kind... Still, it actually did fit in the slots this time and looked very nice. So, off it came again and on to the bench ready for painting of the inside surfaces before fitting. The relevant areas were masked up and timber preservative and first coat of undercoat applied.

The first problem with dry-fitting the Starboard cabin side panel particularly, turned out to be that it's, well, on the Starboard side. Obvious, I know. However, to get to the Starboard side of the boat with a 4600mm panel means you have to take the panel out of the shed altogether, open the other sliding door and bring the panel back in. However, the sliding door on that side of the shed is the one that has been jammed so solidly for the last five years or so, that we've never been able to open it, but this time, needs must! So, out with a crowbar and some lengths of timber and sometime later......., I had eventually opened the door - just. It was only about a metre, but it was enough. Incidentally, have you ever tried carrying a 4600mm long panel by yourself when it's windy? No, nor had I - nor will I again!

Given that a single template was used to make both cabin sides and the template was actually made on the Portside of the boat, I suppose I shouldn't have been in the least bit surprised that the exact copy of the portside panel intended for the starboard side didn't fit. I am well aware, although it is a closely guarded secret, that the boat isn't square. I know, I know it's pointed, but no, that's not what I mean. The boat is longer down one side than the other and as a result, a couple of the earlier (read aft-most) bulkheads are a bit crooked in the boat as well. (The passage wall isn't quite upright either, but we won't talk about that). Now, no one will ever know this and it's only about 15mm so it really isn't much of a problem except when you try and fit a copy of the portside cabin side onto the starboard side. Hmm.

The first issue is that the panel is 15mm too short of course, but a simple butt block glued out of sight behind where the sundeck door will fold away, fixed that. The second issue is that the window cut-outs are offset forward too far and it becomes obvious when you notice that the pillar that supports the roof in the bedroom, which is supposed to be in the middle between the two windows quite plainly isn't - it's 30mm off! I tried to convince myself that the curtains would probably have covered up that problem in due course, but the other item that relies on the windows being in the right place is the size of the hole left for the Hot Water Service flue pipe to vent to the outside air - which is much more important. The solution turned out to be quite simple - move the whole panel back another 15mm! Happily, the butt block I had fitted was, by sheer chance, just big enough and I decided that 15mm cut off the very aft-most sloping edge of the cabin side wouldn't be obvious to anyone. So, don't tell anyone.

I'm not in any rush to put the saloon and bedroom roofs on because it makes the boat too dark inside to work comfortably. However, the galley roof being installed is a necessary prerequisite for building the windscreen frame. So, out with the sander and start cleaning up the glue contact points for the galley roof. To reduce the staining and/or paint damage by the glue squeezing out during the roof installation, it was suggested that all the areas adjacent to the joint areas be covered with masking tape beforehand; more, much more on this subject in a minute.

Also, before the roof was glued on seemed to be a good time to install the LED lighting system. The access holes for the wiring were drilled some time back and it only remained to clean all the ledges in the roof beams with acetone and stick on the 8mm wide LED strips. Each waterproof strip contains 60 warm daylight 3528 type LEDs per metre and has 3M adhesive tape on the back. I had bought some special connectors to suit the strips and they worked quite well, at least to start with. The whole galley roof used 10m of LED strip, which draws less than 2 amps at 13 volts - making for very efficient lighting. In fact, the whole setup now it's finished, works remarkable well and of course, because it's indirect lighting, there's no dark corners and no shadows. Excellent!

I had always planned to have a dimmer fitted to the galley lights so that they could be used during night cruising, in fact I bought a suitable unit what is now five years ago. I had asked my son, who has a 3D printer, if we could make a suitable escutcheon plate for the dimmer to make it look a bit less clunky. It then occurred to me to check eBay to see if the design of these units has improved in the intervening period. It has, significantly! I was able to purchase a very flash looking wall mounted LED dimmer (and touch sensitive on/off) unit for a modest price, so much so, that I bought one for the Saloon as well. I think my son is a bit miffed.

The connectors for the LED strips punch a small pair of holes through the Mylar base material to reach and connect with the copper tracks inside the waterproof covering. I have found that if you then move the connector again after it's installed, it will often fail. I'm assuming that with any kind of movement, the small pins actually make the hole in the Mylar tape bigger and then they "slop around" and don't contact the copper properly any more. To test this theory, I decided to try using a dob of a special conducting paint, which is a suspension of pure silver powder in a quick drying enamel base, on the Mylar to make the contact area bigger. So far, it seems to have worked too. Incidentally, I keep the silver paint on hand to repair printed circuit boards and more interestingly perhaps, rejuvenating worn-out buttons on remote controls for TVs and ceiling fans and the like. It's expensive, but it works very well!

This week saw the first layer of the galley roof finally glued on, no more dry-fitting, painting (& re-painting Arghh)! The layer is made up of two large panels which are difficult to handle when covered with glue, without spreading glue where you don't want it, so I was grateful for an extra pair of hands this week when friend Mark turned up just at the right moment.

I told him what I needed, although obviously not in enough detail as it turned out. We duly placed the two panels on the roof and they were then screwed down and stapled every 100mm over all the supporting surfaces. When I finally went inside the galley for the last part of the job, which is to clean up the glue "squeeze-out", I realised that somehow the panels were not in the right place. It turned out that I had omitted to point out to Mark that there was a centre line to align the panels and the whole thing was now very firmly screwed and stapled down 8mm too far to starboard. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn't have mattered that much. However, since the inside surfaces had all been masked with such care and then painted with white squares to exactly fit between the roof beams, it was a disaster. The white painted areas didn't line up with the beams and it was not only glaringly obvious, but really difficult to fix with any prospect of having a good finish.

It was four in the afternoon by this time and it was all too hard. I decided to come back fresh the next day and try to sort it out. Driving home I realised that just about any ideas I had for "sorting it out" were all even harder and doomed to dismal failure. So, I turned around and went back to the shed.

The first mix of epoxy had had about three hours by then and was going off nicely, but once all the screws and staples were removed I managed to get a chisel under its edge and lift it. After what was nearly four hours now and with significant reluctance, it came off as did the second panel. They were both slid over the 8mm to their proper place and refitted. After re-fitting the screws and lots more staples, the job was finally done. Having cleaned up the new "squeeze-out" (from the right places this time) inside the galley, I went home. It had been a very long day!

The next day I set about removing the masking tape. I didn't want to leave it on for too long after the difficulties I'd had removing tape from the recent paint job described elsewhere. However, it turns out that the now hardened epoxy "squeezed-out" on to the surface of the masking tape, albeit largely cleaned up, was still stronger than the masking tape itself, which means that the tape tears across rather than coming away from the job in a strip. The result is that almost twenty metres of masking tape had to be removed with a chisel one inch at a time - Arghhhhhhhhh! And, all this is with your arms up, working over your head and in entirely the wrong spot to be able to see what you're doing wearing multi-focal glasses. The only bright side (pun intended) is that the galley light system was working really well so that every mistake, spot, smudge and chisel dig is absolutely and blindingly obvious to anyone who looks up and will probably remain so!

Not the best week on record! I should have known really, because on Saturday night I woke "leaking" explosively from both ends into the toilet, from what turned out to be a nasty salmonella infection. I've been on a "Lite & Easy" diet, as much for convenience as anything else, but this week I lost three kilos between Saturday and Wednesday alone, so it works!!

22/02/2016 Doesn't seem to be much progress this week.

The Port side bedroom/bathroom wall panel is dry-fitted and fully painted ready to be installed. Given that I can only just lift the thing at all, the idea of having to install it accurately with it all covered in rapidly setting glue and by myself, seemed to be doing it the hard way. So, I thought I would invite a friend to come and give me a hand.

It also occurred to me that if I'm going to do that, why not ready the Starboard side panel for installation as well and really abuse a friendship? So, the Port side panel was set aside to make room for the Starboard panel to move to the bench for sanding, masking & painting with, what has now become the usual five coats of finish. One preservative, two Hi-Build primer and two of gloss polyurethane. Each coat has to have at least a day to harden for sanding, which is I suppose, why progress seems a bit slow at present. Not that there aren't a few other things I could be doing...

Speaking of which, the two new flash LED dimmers have arrived and I connected one temporarily into the galley light system to test it. It works very well. Not only is it an On/Off switch and a dimmer, but it is all touch sensitive with no moving parts. As a bonus, it remembers the last dimmed level that was used and returns to that level once the lights are turned on again and does so via a "soft-start" process. So, when you turn on the lights, they don't suddenly blaze away at full power, but come on slowly like turning up an oil light. It seems to add a touch of luxury, which was unexpected.

Having decided that these dimmers are a really good unit, I ordered a third one for the bedroom. There is one feature I would add to the dimmer unit however, and that is a Back Light, so that you can find the switch in the dark. To that end, I may still get my son's 3D printer into the act to make a shallow escutcheon plate in which I can hide a small blue LED - we'll see.

Having now finalised the light switches for the three main living areas, that started me thinking about "the smallest room in the house". I don't need a dimmer in the bathroom particularly, but aside from that, there is nowhere to put a light switch where it's not on a plain 12mm thick wall, meaning that the working parts of the switch would stick through and be visible on the other side. It is true that it could be mounted on a wall box sticking out from the wall, but that's a bit clunky, so what to do? I had many months ago (years?) decided that a pull-switch in the ceiling, operated with a length of cord, might be the solution. It turns out that I had one of these switches in my "come-in-handy" box, although the string was long gone and having restored it to working order, considered the problem solved. There's always something else isn't there? If you're going to put a switch in the ceiling, you'd better hide the wiring in the roof beams ready, before you put the roof on! Phew, that was close - hadn't thought of that.

10/03/2016 The big news that came recently was that the windows were ready for collection and bang on time too, which seems to be such a rarity these days. (I took my wrist watch in for a service and a new glass in October - I'm still waiting after six months)! I complimented Luke on having the windows finished by the end of February as promised and his rather rueful comment was only "It's a good thing it's a Leap Year" it was the 29th as it turned out!

The windows are fabulous. They are custom made from special aluminium channel and each has a fixed and sliding glass section. The sliding section is fitted with a replaceable fly screen in its own aluminium frame and the window can be locked shut or partially open. The bathroom window was a problem because its top and bottom sections are not parallel, which means it can't be a sliding window. After some discussion, Luke agreed to put a channel across the middle so that the trapezoidal section is simply fixed glass, whilst leaving a sliding component across the top. The corresponding trapezoidal window on the starboard side is not glass, it has a plain metal grill to ventilate the hot water service locker instead. The metal grill is black and fitted in its own removable frame to allow for maintenance. They even fitted a small grab handle!

Altogether a very nice job. If you need windows, see Luke at Custom Sliding Windows at Windsor Gardens.

The two small galley windows were immediately dry fitted to see what they look like. They went in with very little sanding of the openings, just enough to remove the inevitable glue & paint dags that have accumulated over time, and the windows look terrific. The minimum diameter for the curved corners of frames was quoted as 75mm and when I made the cut-outs, I naturally allowed for the 75mm. Obviously, that's wrong! The curve of the inside edge of the frame may be 75mm, but the depth of the channel plus the thickness of the material adds another 30mm or so. The actual diameter of the required aperture is therefore 104mm, which has involved making a mould on a back plate and casting filler pieces in each corner with epoxy so that the windows seal properly when installed. It's fortunate that I realised 'the error of my ways' before I cut the saloon or bedroom windows holes, all of which are correct happily.

One element I hadn't considered was the weight of the windows. They seem to be about 12-15Kg each, depending on size (No - really?), which with fourteen windows, must be approaching 200Kg. It's really only significant because it is such a long way above the Centre of Gravity and from a stability point of view, it's a pity. It's also hard to think what can be done about it except put the kettle on...

The galley roof is made up of three layers of 4mm ply, double diagonally planked. The first layer was painted on the underside before installation and has been in place for some time. It was a useful first vehicle to use to try and acquire some painting skills! (Grr - I hate painting)! The second and third layers are now installed and I'm continually amazed by the very low wastage produced by this method of planking. Each full sheet of ply was cut into 300mm planks for no other reason than it suits the sheet width. The second and third layers of the roof were then laid at 45 degrees to the fore and aft line of the boat and to each other. It's a bit like cutting a jigsaw, one piece at a time and fitting the resultant bits back together. The wastage consisted of just a few triangles and even they may get used eventually, since I still have the saloon and bedroom roofs to do!

Incidentally, the roof beams in the galley are spaced only about 275mm apart quite deliberately and are domed towards the centre. With 12mm of plywood roof glued into place on top of them, the whole structure has taken on a remarkably solid "feel". It was always intended to be a "bearer" roof, capable of being safely walked upon, so that's just as well I suppose!

My son has used his 3D printer and CAD skills to produce some outstanding escutcheons to surround my fancy LED dimmer switches and make them look even better. I have found that I can slip an LED under one edge too, so that at night, the whole thing is faintly illuminated in an eerie blue. Hmm...

The pull switch for the bathroom was resurrected from my "come-in-handy" box and now has a snowy white new cord (not for long, I suspect). It will need a "box" to allow it to be mounted on the ceiling to hide its "internals". I had a suitable piece of Oregon handy and an hour or so with the trusty router and spray can of clear polyurethane produced a lovely solid switch block.

The main entrance to the boat has been moved to the starboard front part of the saloon and the entry steps will be incorporated into the helmsman's seat. So far so good, except that there will still need to be a hatch in the roof above the steps, to provide the necessary headroom. For some reason, I had always assumed that the hatch would be a standard sliding type thing, but when you start thinking about actually making one, it's not so straightforward. It is curved for starters, since it has to follow the curve of the roof and as I have described in excruciating detail elsewhere, the curve of the roof isn't a simple radius, it's a parabola, which means that the radius changes depending on which part of the curve you're looking at. The result is of course, that if the hatch has the correct curve when closed, once it's pushed up the roof to open it, the curve will be all wrong. All of which raises questions like how do you make such a thing slide easily and how on earth do you make it watertight in bad weather? (I guess if you want to have the hatch open in bad weather, it doesn't much matter if the edges leak a bit does it)?

The focus on building the galley roof has started to bring the job of making the saloon roof into focus and the problem of the hatch has to be resolved. Time for the proverbial "cup of tea" and then the solution is obvious, of course. A lift-up rather than sliding hatch, hinged toward the centre of the roof and opening like a car bonnet to the side is a much easier proposition. And, a quick trip to the wrecker's yard might even yield a couple of suitable gas-lift thingies to take the main weight and make it really easy to open too.