Monday, October 26, 2009

3. Taking shape

Being a week-end warrior does provide one the opportunity to plan, think and anticipate problems which, in most cases, do not really manifest themselves.
One of my big concerns during the week was; What adhesive/epoxy to use. A brief and productive visit to the friendly people at Advanced Material Technologies (AMT) quickly solved that problem.

I always enjoy visiting these industrial suppliers. They know that you, as a member of the public, won't place a massive order like their normal customers do but their service is always friendly and the advice sensible and informative as opposed to the salesmen of the normal hardware supplier on the corner of the street. (A few days ago, with reference to a certain electrical component, I had to explain to one of these saleswomen what the difference between "male" and "female" is.) I opted to use the AMT A032 clear epoxy for the cedar strips.
The quick-set epoxy is clear and with a tensile strength of 30 Mpa and with adequate penetration when clamped it is good enough for me.

The weather during the week-end was not really suitable for paddling and I managed to make some good progress. Having cut a few strips I joined them with splayed butt joint to the full length of 4m + but when I started gluing the first one in place, I soon realised that it's not going to work. It is extremely difficult to handle a 5mm x 20mm x 4m long strip - especially when using quick-set epoxy.
This may raise some eyebrows: My modus operandi now is to use shorter lengths ( 1.5 to 3m long) and butt-join them on the bulk-heads as I go along. This worked much easier especially when I started negotiating the rather sharp curves near the top of the bulk-heads. Progress slowed down considerably at this point because the edges of the strips need to be splayed carefully with small hand planer to ensure a tight fitting joint, particularly externally.
Had these curves on the bulk-heads been tighter, or the strips thinner and wider, I would not have been able to obtain a fair external curve in these areas afterwards without sanding the strips down to unacceptable thickness.

Having reached the curved section on the hull, the C-clamps had to be discarded (the C-clamps were now too small anyway) and replaced with home-made "clamps" made from rubber tubing that the spear fishermen use on their spear-guns.

I managed to fix six strips on the one side and just had to sand down a section to see how visible the joints between the strips are and whether a fair curve would be obtained without losing too much thickness in the wood.

I am fairly satisfied.
The decorative white strip is Ash which I bought for its excellent steam-bending properties and will be used for the external stems of the hull. It is intended to catch up with laying strips on the other side of the hull during the week to counter stresses that might distort the hull.

A quick word on Western Red Cedar:

We know that this tree is the largest living organism on the planet and with a density of only 340 kg/m3 is one of the lightest woods available for use in construction. In comparison, Beech is 750 kg/m3. (I hope to achieve a total weight of not more than 30kg after glassing.) We were astonished to count 50 growth rings in a 200mm wide strip.
this means that the diameter of these massive trees only increases by 40mm of a 50 year period (less than 1mm per year). I almost feel guilty using the wood but at least we are building a kayak and don't use the wood for making fires.
With the excellent tonal qualities of the wood, the kayak may produce pleasant sounds when paddling over choppy waters.

Total hours spent to date: 28

Monday, October 19, 2009

2. Construction starts

The strong back was built on two doors which were meticulously leveled, lined up and nailed together. Ten stations were cut (using paper templates) from 9mm plywood and fixed to the strong back. Using fishing line on the base it was relatively easy to line up the stations along the centre line and assuring that they were vertical and square relative to the strong back.

It seems that strip canoes are largely built without bulkheads but I don’t have the level of confidence that the experts have and it is the intention that every alternative station remains in the hull as a permanent bulkhead. The seat area between stations 4 and 6 will partly be left open (without strips) as I would like to insert a polycarbonate viewing panel on the bottom of the kayak.

I also notched the stations and glued (epoxy) a 20mm wide Meranti strip along the keel line of the kayak to add stability to the stations and provide fixing areas for the inner fore and aft stems.

I managed to obtain clear (knot-free) Western Red Cedar and cutting it in 5mm thick strips on the band saw proved easier than I thought. The photograph shows the first strip being test-fitted.
Excitement grew as the beautiful shape of the Evolution started to emerge

My methods vary probably from the traditional way of building a strip canoe, but then again the shape of the Evolutions differs quite substantially from the “Canadian canoe” shape.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

1 Introduction

At the age of 10 years I built my first "canoe". The sheet of corrugated iron, with the ends folded over and hammered flat, leaked like a sieve and floated for about 30 seconds before it was sucked down a mild whirlpool in the Orange River which bordered our farm.

"Why build another one?" she asked a few days ago. I looked at my wife. Sometimes she asks these seemingly simple questions for which there are no simple answers.
It's true that I have built three kayaks already (with varying levels of success)
It's true that we already have a Stealth Supalite each. In fact, there's four presently in the family.
And it's true that the list of house maintenance to-do's on the fridge door is growing.

So why build another kayak? I guess the answer is : Why do people climb mountains?

Some months ago I visited Stealth Performance Products to pick a fishing ski. The moment I saw the Stealth Evolution, I got goose bumps. The sleek looking Evolution begs to be hugged, stroked and launched. Reality is that I intend to do offshore fishing and at my age (59) one needs maximum stability. I then settled for a Stealth Supalite - with no regrets.

On a subsequent visit to Stealth Performance Products and mindfull on copyright and ethical issues, I asked Bruce if he would sell me the bottom half of the hull of the Evolution so that I can fit it out with my own decorated wooden deck. Much to my surprise he said:" Why not build the complete Evolution in wood?" When I mentioned this to Mick Clarke ( his encouraging reaction really got me going.

With the support of my wife there's no stopping me now