Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Forward Cabin Framing

I'm now walking around on a nice level floor. The floor feels very firm and is squeak free while only being fastened down with maybe 50% of the screws. I'm very pleased with the amount of head room I ended up having. So now it is time to lay out the various partitions and interior walls. Just in case anyone is wondering, I'm talking about the lower forward area of the boat in this post. The other thing I should probably say about boat building is that there are very few things that are plumb, level, or square on a boat. Certain things might look skewed or goofy, but that's just the way things work out on certain parts of a boat.

I have a two cabin layout in the lower forward area of the boat. The master cabin witch is amid ship on the engine room bulkhead, and and a cabin in the "V" for the kids. There is a shared shower and head between the two cabins and each cabin has it's own sink. The space's worked out better putting the sinks in the cabins vs a sink in the shower area. It might not make the most sense, but it made more sense to me to have sinks in each cabin.

Coming down the four steps from above one will stop at a landing. By turning left you will pass through a door and enter the master cabin witch measures 11' x 11'. There will be a full size queen bed with drawers underneath, a sink/vanity on the right side along with vanity/dresser for Shannon also on the right side. On the left side will be a desk for me and a locker to hang things in. Bookcase's and shelves will make up the wall above the bed, and a flat screen TV on the wall opposite the bed. A watertight door leads to the engine room on the left side of the bed and another door leads to the common shower/head on the right side of the bed.

If you choose to go straight vs left while standing in the stair landing, you'll enter a hall leading to the "V" cabin area. In this hallway will be a small sitting area and a vanity with a sink. Past the vanity you enter the kids cabin with it's bunk beds and storage underneath. There is room on the bathroom wall for a small TV, and there is also an opening hatch in the kids cabin. I laid out this cabin so there will be a bunk area and the hallway area, so people could have some privacy to change or be by themselves without having to go into the bathroom. The hallway/sitting room works out nice in my opinion and it gives this area a much needed private space.

There is a port light in the landing, a port light in the hallway/sitting room and two port lights ( port and starboard ) in the kids cabin. There is a port light in the bathroom, and two port lights in the master cabin. All the ports are fixed and cannot be opened. I'll post more on ventilation later down the road, but in a nutshell I have a hatch in the "V", and two six inch vents for the master cabin leading up through the wheel house. The bathroom has force ventilation leading up to the Portuguese bridge. The lower forward area will also have it's own dedicated air conditioning system.

I framed the partitions with 2x3, and will sheath them in 3/8 Cherry veneer plywood. The outboard walls will get a 1x6 ceder plank, and the ceilings will be a painted bead board. I decided to frame now vs after the insulation because I think this is way makes more sense. Once the insulator gets finished with his work it will be extremely difficult to attach anything to the steel frames. I used screws to fasten all the framing together in case I needed to take something apart while I move forward with the finishing work. My insulator stopped by the boat one day recently and commented that I was getting a little close to the steel with some of the framing. He suggested I hold some parts of the framing a little farther away to give him some more room to work. The insulator also said I'd be a lot of the lumber would still be clean when he left so more blocking could be added after he finished.

My next step is to layout all of my boxes for my 12v and 120v fixtures. Once I know where all my various light fixtures and appliance's go, I'll run conduit and boxes similar to conventional house wiring only I'll use stranded wiring instead of the solid wire one would see in a house. I also will run as much of my waste and water lines along with anything else I feel comfortable having buried in the foam. I've been using urethane adhesive to glue nailer blocks to certain parts of the hull on the recommendation of the insulator. He told me to go ahead and use only adhesive, because once he sprays that particular block into the foam, I'll not be able to get it out and that block will become part of the insulation. Because of the ease of just slapping some glue on a wood block and sticking it to the hull I'm putting up blocks any place I remotely think I"ll need one.

Having the framing completed really closes the boat in. But for all of those who know boats I know you'll appreciate when I say that the areas I've created are very roomy and very comfortable. The "V" cabin is a little snug, but it still works good and I'm able to move around with ease. I'd love to have another 10' to work with, but I must say I'm very happy with what I have and the space's I've created.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Forward Cabin Sole

The forward cabin is painted, the water tanks are installed, the firing lumber is bolted to the frames, and now it's time to install the forward sole. Sole is to a boat what a sub floor is to a house ( it is to me).

I've had to make the choice of screwing the plywood sole down directly down to the steel flange I welded to the frames or build the steel frames up with 2x lumber, then screw the plywood down to that lumber. I will loose 1.5" of headroom by using lumber, but I feel as if I'll also loose a lot of future complications by using lumber vs straight to the steel. Using a firing strip over the steel flange costs me some headroom, but it also gives me more square footage on the floor since I've raised the floor profile and allowed the plywood to "slide" more outboard against the frames. It's amazing how much more room I have since the sole grew outboard when I mocked up the sole framing system. Screwing the plywood directly to the steel in my opinion will make lifting pieces of the floor a real pain in the ass years down the road as screws rust and break. I'll end up with about 6' 2" of headroom once the finished ceiling is installed. This 6' 2" seems to be my minimum as some areas will be a little more ( 6' 7" in some areas). I'm 5' 11" tall and I'm totally happy with the headroom I"ll end up with.

The forward cabin are is where my cabin will be, the kids cabin, and the common bathroom/shower shared by both cabins. Both cabins will be carpeted and the bathroom/shower room will be hardwood or tile.

I'm using #1 southern yellow pine as my firing lumber, and CDX for as the plywood on the sole. The firing lumber runs perpendicular to the frames and is screwed to the frame flange using a self tapping screw of sufficient size and thickness. Even though the salesmen who sold me the self tappers said I would not have to drill a pilot hole, I found things went much faster by drilling a pilot hole. I also used polyurethane adhesive to glue the firing lumber down to the frame flange. I don't want to rely totally on the self tapping screw as I could see the lumber shrinking, the screw getting loose on the lumber, and a squeak developing. It if for all the reasons I just listed that I think the adhesive will give me some a little better job.

I've also had to make a decision on how I'm going to frame my partitions that will make up the cabin walls. My current boat just uses plywood stood on edge for the partition. This boat is much bigger and has more in her regarding systems and things like wiring and plumbing. I posed this question on metalboatbuilding.org and after receiving the usual good comment, I decided to frame the partitions out of 2 x 3 lumber. The reason I've had to decide this now is because I want to be able to remove all of the cabin flooring without having to remove any partitions. For this reason I'll have to frame the cabin sole in a way that allows the sole to be supported from below while the partitions remain in place. I also have to frame in all my access panels in the floor for access to water tank valves and whatever else I need to maintain below the floor. In a nut shell the cabin sole is basically made up of lots of small pieces that fit together to make the sole system.

I knew where all the access panels had to be located so framing those areas of the sole required very little layout. The partition walls on the other hand would take some more thought. I decided to handle this by framing and installing the sole, then once the sole was complete I will be able to get more precise with the various cabin partitions and cabin components. Once I new where most everything will go regarding living space, I will put layout lines down on the sole and alter the sole to accept the framing above. Doing it this way allows me days to ponder locations and do mock up's to see how things fit. Now is the time I start fighting for every square inch so I want to make sure it works for me and works for the boat. Most of the decisions I'm making have me giving most of my consideration to how easy things will be to service and maintain.

I screwed the sole down with a # 12 stainless steel wood screw using a tapered bit with a counter sink that had a depth stop so all the counter sinks are at the right depth.

The sole is now complete and I'm loving how much better the boat feels now that I can walk around on a firm flat surface. The sole is very solid and has no give or squeak as I walk across it. My next step will be to start the framing of the interior partitions so I can have all the cleats and nailers installed prior to insulation.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Water tanks installation

I have eight water tanks for my potable water supply located under the forward sole of my boat. The first tank I built I measured for cubic footage, then filled it with water, and by using a shut off valve and a five gallon bucket I was able to measure the amount of water in the tank. My method of measuring cubic footage and measuring with the five gallon bucket gave me about the same volume of water within two gallons, so I'll stick with measuring for cubic footage vs filling each tank to get volume. I have 325 + gallons worth of water tanks.

After the boat is insulated and I'm assembling components of supply, vent, and filling of the tanks, I'll post more regarding the system as a whole.

I'm mounting the water tanks using a flange welded to the tank ends and a corresponding bracket welded to the hull of the boat. Where the bracket is deeper in the hull ( by the center line of the boat), I used studs welded to the hull bracket that the tank flange will drop over. On the less deep end of the tank ( outboard ends), I used nuts welded to the hull brackets that the tank flange will bolt to. I used 30 mill pvc pond liner I had laying around the shop to act as a gasket to go between each tank flange and hull bracket.

I had installed the tanks prior to final painting to make sure all the brackets would work and also that the tanks would finish out below the sole framing. I also needed to verify that the valves I was using on the supply end of the tanks would clear all the steel framing. I ended up having to adjust the access holes in the frames for the tank fill lines ( I guess I screwed up on the cut twice measure once thing). 4 3/8" clearance between the front of the tank and the center longitudinal frame of the boat is barely enough ( it fit) room to get a close nipple, valve, close nipple then a "T" for the tank supply. I don't think the Governator would be able to get his arm down in that space to operate this gate valve, but I'm able to so I'm happy with the final fit. Because I had installed the tanks prior to painting the tank install went fairly smooth. My 13 year old son helped me as the tanks are to large for one person to handle. The only real issue we had was that the amount of paint on the hull brackets caused me to use a tap or a die to clean up the threads on the respective hull bracket. The tanks are a tight fit between the frames so we used as much care as possible lowering each tank into its "bay" so we would not damage the paint. It would take a hard hit to get through all the coats of paint in the bilge area, but I still was very carefull.

I held off installing the tanks as long as possible to try to keep the trash generated from bolting the firing lumber to the frames from getting under the tanks.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sticks and weeds

The interior painting of the hull is, for the most part, complete...well it is complete in the forward area of the hull. I still have to finish the engine room, but for now that will wait. It's amazing the amount of light I now have in the hull now that she's painted bright white vs the dark primer I've been living with for the last five years. I feel as if I've reached a milestone of sorts since now I'm close to hauling the welder off of the boat. I still need the welder on the boat to do some work on the fuel tanks and some other odds and ends in the engine room.

The next task at hand is to bolt firing lumber to the frames. My title to this post refers to lumber as sticks and weeds. I know an aluminum skiff builder up in Alaska who's been known to use this phrase and somehow it just seems to fit. Sticks and weeds baby...sticks and weeds. I think Steve Earle covered this phrase in a song... or maybe I'm thinking of seeds and weeds.

For all of you who are not familiar with the metal yacht building process I should probably mention few words on the interior finishing system. All the metal on my boat has had the mill scale removed prior to the start of construction. After all the welding was completed the boat had welds ground, splatter removed, tacks and other garbage removed, sanding/cleaning with 60 grit, more sand blasting, and then multiple coats of epoxy primer, and epoxy top coat paint. One step I should mention prior to painting was that I drilled holes in all the frames to accept 1/4" bolts for attaching the firing lumber. I drilled these holes 1/16" over size and beveled the holes with a counter sink to help the paint stick better. The next step in the interior is to bolt lumber to the frames that will later be used to attached the finish hull liner. The hull liner is the plywood or planking that will be the finished wall surface. In my case I'm going to use planks on the hull sides, and plywood on all the partitions. Once the firing lumber is bolted to the the frames, I'll install some conduits, some of the electric runs, and some of the water and waste piping. Once that is all complete I will then be ready to have the boat insulated. The insulation I'm using will be a sprayed in, closed cell polyurethane foam, that will cover everything down to the water line. After the foam is complete I will now be ready to start the finish joinery work witch will include the hull liner, berths, cabinets, etc...

Bolting the lumber to the frames was pretty much a straight forward job. I'd clamp a 2x3 to the frame, drill the holes in the lumber, then drive a 1/4 x 2" carriage bolt through the board. I would then remove the board, apply a generous bead of polyurethane adhesive, put the board back on to the frame, put on washers and nuts, then use my air ratchet to tighten the nuts. I pretty much use air tools exclusively as I just like them better. Air tools are less expensive, don't break when you drop them, and last longer. I have a nice compact right angle drill that works extremely well for drilling the bolt holes in the lumber. This right angle drill has for sure been my tool of choice for most of my drilling jobs on the boat. For the hull side frames located towards the center of the boat ( station 9, 10, @ 11) I was able to just bolt a 2x3 to the frame without any custom ripping as there was not much curvature of the hull in these areas. As I move forward and the curvature of the hull increased, I had to give each board a custom angle rip to keep the face of the board parallel with the hull sheathing. The frames are not square to the hull sheathing but the face of the lumber must be parallel to the hull to allow my finish hull liner to go on nice and fair. Using a bevel gauge, I'd come up with an average angle as measured in a few locations on the particular frame. I'd then climb off of the boat, head down to the shop floor, transfer the angle to the table saw and make the rip. All the lumber was held about 1/4" - 3/8" proud of the frame to allow for some insulation to cover the frame flange. Once the boat is insulated no metal will be seen and the only lumber you will see is the face of the board that the hull liner will be screwed to. The cabin roof was a little different than the hull sides as it has a camber to it vs the straight line of the hull side. Bolting the firing to the cabin ceiling would have been a little easier if I ignored the camber and just bolted a straight board to the frame. I like the camber look of the cabin roof, and since I'm fighting for every square inch of space I kept the camber in my framing. Because of the camber of the cabin roof I had to use a 2x4 vs a 2x3 for the cabin roof. I just had to clamp the 2x4 to the frame, mark the cut line, then use my band saw to make the cut leaving the line. I'd then re clamp the board making sure the board face was held proud, drill the holes, install the bolts, apply adhesive, run the nuts home with the air ratchet. I had some conduit runs in the cabin roof frames that I had to transfer to the lumber, but for the most part it was straight forward.

I've built my lasts two houses and when you look at the size of the forward cabin area of the trawler you'd be amazed at how much longer it took to bolt the firing on the frames vs something like framing the first floor of my current house. Everything regarding building boats just takes longer than what most of us are accustomed to. I'm not really tracking my time, but when I say it takes longer than lets say "Y", I"m talking like five or six times longer, not just the cliche' "double the time".

The firing of the frames is now completed, but there is still lots to do before I can insulate. I still have to install the water tanks, build the forward sole ( cabin floor), install all the cleats or nailers that will be buried in the insulation yet are needed for attaching finished lumber, frame all the partitions so I know all cleats and nailers relating to partitions work prior to insulation. I also plan on installing some of the waste and water piping, conduit runs, and electric wires. Once the insulation is installed it will be a huge pain in the ass to add cleats/nailers to the hull so I want to get as much of this work done now. I've never built a boat before, but having built some house's helps me regarding stragegic placement of some sticks. Since I just got done preaching on how much time it took for my firing, I'd be afraid to guess how much time one would spend attaching even the smallest pieces of lumber once the insulation is completed.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Interior Painting

When one hears the words interior painting you might be inclined to think of paint and how it relates to ones house. The interior painting system on the trawler is more about function than making her pretty. Most of the interior painting will never be seen again and it's sole purpose is to stop corrosion from occurring. The interior paint we will see will be down in the bilge area and again the paint serves as a corrosion barrier. Steel boats of the past have earned a not so favorable reputation due to rust corrosion. The steel boats of yesteryear rusted away from the inside out. I've seen quite a few older steel rusting hulks that had little or no paint on the inside sheathing and framing. These old boats got built, some paint slopped on them, then covered up with plywood...out of sight, out of mind. The materials and methods offered to us builders today will give steel boats the ability to outlive all of their builders without turning into rusting hulks.

I'm building my boat using wheel abraded and primed steel. Wheel abrading is a method of removing the mill scale from the steel utilizing a machine that throws steel shot or some other abrasive at the steel then the metal is primed as it exits the wheel abrading machine. Mill scale is the dark coating one sees on new steel and must be removed prior to painting. Since I'm building inside of my shop and I had the mill scale wheel abraded off I do not have to do any heavy sand blasting of the boat. Because I'm inside I've not had to worry about heavy rust forming during the build. The designer of the boat was also careful to not design corrosion trapping pockets in the framing where water could sit or accumulate and cause crevice corrosion to start. All the frames and longitudinal stringers have "mouse holes" cut in strategic areas to allow water to pass freely and collect in the bilge's.

To prepare the inside of the hull for painting the first step was to grind all the tacks, splatter, and garbage off of all the metal. Then I used my shop sand blaster and blasted all the welds and areas I had ground. I then used my sand blaster to give the interior a light blasting to "tooth" the existing primer so my primer would stick to the existing primer. I'm using epoxies for all the paint and for the primer I alternated between white and gray so I could see the coverage. I applied three coats of primer then three more coats of top coat. For the top coat of paint I used acrylic enamel.

The areas above the water line on my boat will get insulated with sprayed in polyurethane closed cell foam. The areas below the water line will have no foam. For the below the water line areas I added another coat of paint utilizing an insulating additive in the paint. This insulating additive is a NASA technology that gives an "R" value to the paint and prevents condensation. I used the "insul-add" in a primer coat and have no real complaints as to how it sprayed. The material was not that expensive and if it does half of what is claimed, I'll be extremely happy.

These pictures are of the forward bilge area. I'm showing these pictures because these shots also show the mounting brackets for the water tanks.