Tag Archives: progress

Late- yes, Embarrassed – some, Nearly There – maybe

I noticed that I had not written anything since the end of March, and I guess (unconsciously) this was because I had intended to have Befur ready for the water on the first of April, and that clearly wasn’t happening – and addressing that fact in print was a bridge too far!

However, we have been far from idle, and I actually do think we should be there for the first week of June (fingers-crossed). So here is a quick review of progress in April and May.

Checking the Solar Panels

As you may recall Befur uses solar panels to maintain it’s batteries and drive ancillaries that have to be on all the time – Bilge Pump, Airhead ventilation fan etc. So we dragged her out into the sunshine to make sure all this worked – and clicked a few photos.

(The Propeller Saga: John Maltby (friend, boiler inspector and ex merchant navy Chief Engineer) stopped by one day, and as he walked past the back of the boat casually said “Malcolm, that prop is the wrong hand”. I tried arguing, but finally realised that he was right! So a panicked phone call to Fal Propellers in Aberdeenshire ensued. They happily agreed to take back the old one in part-ex and modified one they had in stock to provide a replacement – what a great company – thank you Lorna and Mark).

Deck Fittings and a Samson Post

The next job was attaching all the deck fittings – we opted for two fairleads on the fore-deck and cleats on the stern and midships. These were fitted with large (4mm and 6mm) stainless screws epoxied into the deck clamp.

However, the reason for opting for fairleads on the foredeck was that it seems that we might well be on a swinging mooring, and so relying on cleats to moor Befur seemed unwise. So we installed a “Samson-post” to provide a secure point for mooring.

This post is made from a single ~2M length 75mm square Iroko epoxied into the fore-deck, bolted to one of the deck-beams and pegged and epoxied into the keelson (bottom of the hull). This makes a very sturdy locating point for a mooring strop running over the (also installed) bow-roller – which will also hold one of the anchors ready for deployment.

At the same time we fitted the forward navigation lights (this involved making a small mast for the stem light (and VHF antenna), as it has to be a metre above the port and starboard lights.

In addition we fixed two handrails to the cabin roof, to make access to the fore-deck safer. We arranged these to pass outboard of the part of the cabin roof that will finally  be removed to allow the mast-step to pass into the cabin, when we fit the sailing rig – and at the same time managed to pick up some of the cabin roof beams to make sure the rails were secure enough to withstand a panicked grab!

The last job was to fit the escape hatch (we chose a Vetus PLA45L one at almost £200, but it’s an important item) and checked we could get through it in the kitchen (hula-hoop-style). It was a bit tight, but we figured a decent fire on board would provide the necessary incentive to make it through!

Fresh Water, Bilge Pumps & Heads

We plumbed in the sink, which involved fitting a fwd water tank, cleaning & nickle-plating an antique filler, and installing a seacock for the waste (actually a skin fitting and ball-valve, as the seacocks I had acquired at an SBA auction were too small).

Another similar skin-fitting assembly was installed to take the outfall from the bilge pumps. We opted for a Whale SuperSub 650 automatic bilge pump (and associated wiring), which will be left on when we are away, to provide some security, and a hand-operated 25GPM pump. We have fitted two strum boxes with a diverting valve to let us clear either side of the keelson, and wound up drilling a bunch more limber holes as a quick test demonstrated that the ones we installed as we made the hull were too small (or probably full of epoxy from the cladding process.

Sample of the hull which shows two adjacent strips fitting tightly with the glass cladding and paint.,

A good thing about installing the skin fittings was that you get a “core sample” from the hull and for the first time get to see/check what we built about two and a half years ago! Fortunately it proved that we had not sanded away too much of the hull as we finished and clad it (it’s still about 20mm thick) and also showed that the joints between two of the strips were nice and tight! (two different colours of red-cedar strip on show)

Fire Extinguishers and Fuel Lines

We opted for one powder (2Kg)  and one foam extinguisher (2 Litre). While my original plan was to install the foam one outside (as the biggest risk is a fuel leak), I  realised that putting the powder one in the cabin was probably a bad plan!!!

We also installed the fuel-line from the tank to the burner, with an in-line filter and fuel cut-off valve. At the same time we installed the wiring for the fuel gauge and stern-light, all tucked quite neatly under the port deck clamp.

Inverter woes

Both 1500 watt – but as you can see the “pure sine” one is a lot bigger!

At this point I decided to make sure the electrics all worked – they all did, except the inverter which just would not light the burner. It’s really a mystery, which many people put down to me choosing a “modified sine-wave inverter”.

These are meant to power “dumb” things quite well, but I guess the electronics in the flame-failure device were just too smart. So I had to buy a replacement “pure sine-wave” one at about 3 times the price and 4 times the size!!!

A complete triumph – for Louise!

The next job was to make a cover for the boat – something we had both fretted about for a good while. But emboldened by her success with the piped cushions Lou ordered 10 metres of waterproof “canvas” and produced a perfect result!

We had arranged to use a ratchet strap between the cabin roof and rear deck (passing over the funnel) as a type of “ridge pole” and used about 25 lift-the-dot fasteners to hold the cover taught. We had cut a very rough template from an old (cheap) tarpaulin, and with apparent ease (and her 30-year old Brother sewing machine) Lou produced the result below – one very impressed and pleased Malcolm!

So – bringing the blog up to date

As I have written this post, I have started to realise why we weren’t ready on the 1st April – there was a LOT to do.

I really think we are coming to a close now, today I made the tiller for the rudder (just needs final fettling and some varnish), and attached a boarding ladder to the transom (it’s starting to look like a cross between cross-channel ferry and gin palace), tomorrow John is stopping by to provide another head as we finally decide how to route all the steam and feed-water plumbing, and then we might have no more excuses not to launch it… Oh wait a minute, there is the anti-fouling…..

Here are some pictures of the “engine room” to tide you over to next time!


Befur has a Trailer!

(editor’s update: This trailer was eventually scrapped and a new aluminium one purchased from Gecko Trailers – see The Final Push to the North )

Thank goodness for eBay… (and Graham Wright)… Graham managed to spot this gem on ebay, it’s about 6ft too short,  in need of some paint, somewhat bent from abuse, but it was only 4 miles away, cheap, and nothing a welding torch can’t fix – happy mode:on!

A trial erection

So we reach the point where we can see if it looks like it will fit together. The engine is makes a lot of use of jigs, something new to me, but you can see how they work.

So firstly the front columns are clamped to an assembly jig located in the main bearing slots. Then a jig to locate the lower covers of the cylinders is clamped to the slideways,  then the whole cylinder block is lowered onto these covers – and you start to get a feel for how it’s going to look! and how heavy it is!

first erection - LP valve end
first erection – LP valve end

from the rearfrom the rear… and from the HP endfrom the HP end

Step one complete!

Here are half the moulds for Befur with louise providing scale

Here are half the moulds for Befur with Louise providing scale (Oh, I mean "elegance" - phew!)

Well, we passed the first milestone; all the formers/moulds/jigs are cut out, and I only made a complete hash of one of them! One needs a 14mm “outer” laminating around it due to my misunderstanding of the frames v ribs question and cutting it undersize – but that will serve as good practice for the rest of the laminating I have ahead of me.

Here are the rest showing the ones next to the Transom and Stem;  an elegant stern and prow designed to cope with open water…

Louise modeling the other half of moulds...
The other moulds showing the end ones (next to stem and transom

We are going to return to some metal work while we await the arrival of the Castings from France…. (end August) – I think I will fix the two bikes occupying the building space and turn them into wood funds…


First Mould astern of stem
First Mould astern of stem

As you can see the bows flaire to throw off spray when operating in rough water, and the transom has a significant tumblehome, so the moudls are made in two halves, so that they can be dismantled and removed once the stripping is complete.

The game plan is then to cut the floors, frames and bulkheads to shape using these moulds. Having spoken to Paul Fisher he has persuaded me that we should not try to fit floors etc. prior to sheathing the inside of the hull, so I am planning to just preinstall the Hog/Stem/Transom (of course) and the Bilge Stringers and Clamp.

Next up is sourcing the timber for the strongback of the building jig. I was thinking of building box sections from OSB (sterling board) to save weight and money, but “the community” has persuaded me that this is a bad plan, and I have come to agree. While I think the actual box sections should be a strong as the timbers, I concluded I could not attach the “risers” that hold the jigs in place firmly enough – It would be too hard to spread the load to acheive a stable solution… so 30+ meters of 8 by 3 – here we come!

So Far So Good

Well I  have turned the first 7 sheets of chipboard into moulds and am half way there…

Paul (from SFD) clarified my confusion, I was thinking that the frames marked on the drawings were like the ribs on some of the pictures of his designs, just square and laminated onto undersized moulds – but they are full bulkheads cut away as needed to fit under sole and behind seats and lockers – at least I figured this out before I cut more than one undersize 🙂

plastic batten providing a smooth curve from the marked offsets

plastic batten providing a smooth curve from the marked offsets

Using the plastic batten to produce a smooth curve round the offsets from the mould drawings really works well, and has highlighted 2 or 3 occasions where I had miss-measured or mis typed a dimension, so hopefully we are going to wind up with a fairly fair jig!

The game plan is to a few 3/4-inch panel pins into key marks, and then pull the batten round… normally 3 or 4 are enough, and the fact that the batten will normally then automatically align itself with the other poinst marked from the offsets  from the plan show wat a good job SFD’s computers do in fairing the design.

clamps hold the batten in place, and a few panel pins set the line of the curve

clamps hold the batten in place, and a few panel pins set the line of the curve

The ally clamps just hold the batten down and stop it jumping out. Then when it’s all in place you just draw round it, pop it out, pull out the pins and break out the jig saw!

…and tonight Paul from the Castle of Comfort (my local) came round to help move the next 8 sheets of chipboard in to cut the rest of the moulds…


Sawing Straight (not)

Having clamped a pair of mould-half panels together, I figured I could just cut them out with a jig saw….

The "Offending" Saw - as always it's the bad workman who blames his tools!

The "Offending" Saw - as always it's the bad workman who blames his tools!

So off I set, slowly and carefully sawing along the line – 2 inches in I  encounter the first problem – there is so much dust I can’t see the line… At this point I engage “smug-mode” and pick up the shop airline, and with the spare hand blow the dust clear as I saw…

… I reach the end and discover (horror) that the b*&^&^y saw has cut at an angle to the vertical – and (double horror) this mis-cut has resulted in the lower panel being significantly undersize (we are talking about a ~5mm undercut!) grrrrrr….

I check the saw and the blade is square to the foot, so I am mystified…

A number of posts to the Selway Fisher Builders Yahoo group follow… (this really is a great group of people) and a deal of suggestions emerge within a few hours. These range from observations that cutting 1.5inches of chipboard in one go is too ambitious, thru to real Zen-like encouragement to chill more, take up a pipe and cut them with a Japanese hand saw – excellent!

So, I take some of my scrap chipboard (I just made a nice new bit of this) and draw curved lines and practice my sawing (by hand and other approaches) – including sawing it an inch oversize and improving my planing and surforming technique.

In the end two key factors emerge 1 – you cannot saw two at a time (you were right Graham) and 2 – I was going too slow! By setting the variable speed JigSaw to “flat out” and keeping my feed rate slow the desired results emerge….

The first three moulds - halves bolted together, showing the marking out

The first three mould-halves bolted together, showing the marking out (Nos 1,12 and 16)

I leave the workshop with three assembled and very “boat shaped” moulds – life is good again!


Marking out the moulds

We progress. Having cut the first 7 sheets of chipboard into panels sized to provide the first half-moulds we set about marking them and cutting them out.the first few mould half panels cut...

Selway Fisher provide a set of mould shape drawings, these have a set of horizontal lines at fixed distances above and below the water line (like +50mm, +100mm etc.) and for each of

a stick cunningly modified to provide a ruler with markings corresponding to the verical mould shap offsets

a stick cunningly modified to provide a ruler with markings corresponding to the verical mould shape offsets

these a distance from the centerline of the boat to the edge of the mould. So the first step was to produce a “ruler” with these “vertical offsets” from the waterline marked.

Having first located the waterline on each sheet (by treating one edge of the sheet as the bottom of the hull and then measuring up to the waterline datum position), the ruler is then used to mark the positions (and then draw in) the horizontal lines on which the offsets will be measured.

Then measure and mark the offsets onto the boards. Once this is done I then nailed small panel pins into some of these locations and used them to locate and bend a batten (I used a bit of the plastic finishing strip from a laminate flooring project) to the shape of the edge of the mould. It soon became clear that the batten needed holding against the mould in a couple of places, so bent scraps of ally were srewed into the chipboard to hold everything in place.Moulds showing marking out and

This bit was VERY satisfying, as you could see how the batten automatically took up a smooth (fair?) curve that passed thru the other marked points. I had miss located acouple of points but these became immediatly visible (because the batten “missed” them by  a mile).

My plan is to laminate the frames/ribs onto the moulds before planking, so I chose a batten which was the same thickness as the frames (ribs), so for the moulds that were located where the frames were to be located I drew the cutting curve on the inside of the mould and for the moulds where the frames were not located I drew to the outside of the batten. (I am still a bit nervous about the actual thickness of the frames, as I can’t see this marked on the drawings, so I am awaiting an answer from Mr Fisher when he returns to his offices next week). Actually I spent most of a day computing a set of offsets for the moulds with ribs, but the math was pretty complex, and so in the end I adopted Louise’s suggestion of drawing the inner mould shape from the outer one, as described above!

Removing the batten left some very boat shaped lines on the moulds – then I marked on the hog and clamp cutouts ready for cutting (again these are fitted before the planks) … filled with positive vibes I clamped the mould halves in pairs and picked up the jig-saw and things to a turn for the worse!