Prepping and Folding the hull, building decks, etc.

Over the last month and a half I have been working part time, while working part time on my boat.

First I traced the template I made.
I ground off the mill scale and primed the area below the stringers. Then I welded the two “upper” stringers in place.
Then I welded on my stainless bulwark caps.
By welding on tabs to attach a come-along to, I was easily able to bend the steel into two half-hulls.
Attaching the two half-hulls by tack welding, starting 7 feet from the bow, and working my way aft. Once again I used a come-along to assist me.
Once I had tack welded all the way to the stern, I tack welded a jack into place below where the transom would be. I had to weld on braces made of scrap to hold the jack in position. Jacking up the stern like this flattens the dead-rise. I forgot to take of picture of the transom in place.
Once the transom is in, and some flat-bar was welded in place to hold the hull to it’s approximate beam, I started pulling the bow together.
The transom is in place, and the bow has been pulled in and tacked together.
I then jacked up the stern and built legs. After this I tacked braced the skeg in place. Then I built the foredeck out of galvanized 11 gauge sheet and 1″x1/4″ flatbar. Before installing the foredeck, I removed any twist in the hull using a jack and a come-along.
I then traced my templates for decks, cut them out with the plasma cutter, bent the deck beams to the proper camber ,tacked all the beams in place, and began installing my decks.
A foggy day in the boatyard.

A Mast and Templates

I made templates for just about everything the other day, in the basement of the public library. Thanks Darryl. It was easy  and fun. The hardest part was finding a batten that was long enough to make the curves, but eventually I just made one by scarfing pieces of 1/4″ x 3/4″ pine together. It was inspiring to see the deck laid out full size, and to start to get a feel for the actual size of the boat. I used a product called “Builder Board” for the templates.


 Last fall I scored a free 40′ aluminum mast, complete with mast steps, some hardware, the boom, and a harken furling system. Moving it was a challenge, but eventually I came up with a solution for the two mile drive. Afterwards, my dad came up with the idea to just rest one end on the truck and attach some wheels to the other, but that was afterwards. Below you can see what I came up with, using the tools on hand. Two ratchet straps and a bucket to protect the end of the mast were all I needed. It was ridiculous.


The guy who gave me the mast has been a huge help with this whole thing. Many of my parts have come from him. He once built a steel tugboat of his own design, using the origami method, or something very similar to it. This is where I first heard about it. He found out about the building style while driving truck in the Northwest. That was twenty some years ago. Here is his boat, The Lindsey Nicole, as of last fall. Still riding dry, having frozen in many years in  a row. In this photo the seiche is up, hence the water over the docks.


Anchor winch, mooring bit, etc.

built the anchor winch. I think it cost me about $100 and took a day. I also added the cross piece and chain stopper to my bow mooring bit, and welded the uprights to my handrails.

Anchor winch spindle and support mocked up. 1 5/8″ OD Stainless pipe for the mounts, with a 2″ OD stainless drum spindle, and 1.5″ Stainless rod for the center rod.
Anchor winch, Bow Mooring Bit, unfinished small hatch for shower/ head, and the bow hatch Cedric and I made.
Sprocket for anchor winch
Pilot House and Trunk Cabin handrails. The trunk cabin handrails still need to be trimmed down.

IMG_2720 IMG_2744

Hatches, part 2, Early January.

The ice road wasn’t open yet, so I skied the 2.2 miles to Madeline Island across 6 inches of ice. I carried the hatches on my ski pulk. Of course, a white blew up just before I left. I followed the wind sled tracks all the way there, and Cedric met me at the landing.

Looking back towards Bayfield.
Looking forward to the island.
Looking forward to the island.

This time we had an 1/8″ tungsten and things went much better, but far from perfect. Aluminum has to be extremely clean. That was one thing we didn’t get at first. We finished the bow hatch after a couple hours, then tried to work on the main hatch. I ended up scrapping the main hatch and will be making a new one per the design proper.

What I learned that was already told to me.

  1. Follow the plans.
  2. Aluminum is hard to weld, so keep the welds to a minimum.
  3. Clean, clean, clean.





Hatches, part 1, late November.

I first cut out the proper dimensions for the hatches with the plasma cutter, using a guide for straight edges.  The aluminum I am using is 5052, which is made for the marine environment.  I then scored a line with the angle grinder where I wanted the aluminum sheet to bend, then bent the sheet in the bench vice.



I then traveled to Madeline Island via ferry, to meet up with my tig welding friend, Cedric. There was already a little ice on the lake.

Aluminum and handrails on the ferry.

At the shop, most of the day was a crapshoot. Cedric had only welded aluminum a few times, and had never welded it. We spent a while trying to figure out what tungsten to use. Ultimately we were only able to lay four inch tack welds because the end of the tungsten would ball up and drip into the weld pool, which then pops. So, after about 10 hours we had the hatches tacked together. We found out later we needed a thicker tungsten.

Cedric Welds

 While Cedric was welding, I went to work on the pilot house and trunk cabin handrails. All I had to do was bend the ends, so it took little time. Then I stood around and watched Cedric be frustrated with his welds for 9 hours straight.

Pipe being bent on the floor.




Plasma, MPLS, Stainless, Deck Hardware

 When I started visualizing the project, I thought I would be getting all my metal from the same yard, all in one go. A little ways into this, I’ve been to three different suppliers for various things. The stainless for the deck hardware came from a steel yard, in Minneapolis, MN. There, I was able to get half of my needs at $1.25 a pound from the stainless clearance bin, a quarter from the shear drops bin at $2.50 a pound,  and the last quarter of my stainless I bought new. Even with the four hour drive to get there it was a deal, half of which was in another snow storm. I must also mention how incredibly helpful and friendly the staff was, as well as how organized the place was. That said, I was able to get my 1 1/4″, 20 foot long, stainless bulwarks for $65 less than MPLS yards, at my local steel yard.

The Vesper Atelier Workshop and Classroom

My friends Dan and Heidi let me use the plasma cutter at Vesper Atelier. Dan was also my guide in finding the deals on stainless. They do a lot of metal sculpting at their school.

The plasma cutter was an indispensable tool. The plasma cutter made what surely would have been several days of using cutting discs into a two hour job with hardly any distortion or slag. It handled the 1/4″ – 1/2″ plate with ease and accuracy. The only bad thing was the sunburn I got on my face from using it. I went through five tips,  about $50 dollars worth of consumables. The thing that burnt up tips was blasting holes through the plate to make the inner circles of some pieces. It would have been wise to drill a small pilot hole first, then use the plasma to finish the job.

Tracing Templates
Cutting With Plasma

Templates For Deck Hardware

I made templates out of foam core for all my deck hardware.

Template for the anchor winch sprocket
This is the jig I made for marking the proper angles on the anchor winch sprocket template.
These 8 templates represent 25 individual pieces. From top left we have the anchor winch side (2), anchor winch sprocket, mooring bit doubler plate/ tabernacle base (4 pieces, 1 without the hole for the mast tabernacle), Bow roller uprights(3), mooring but caps (3), bow roller bottom plate, tabernacle uprights (2), and the chainplates (8).