Building Spiffy

For technical tips, questions etc. on all subjects except Engines and Boilers.
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Lopez Mike
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Boat Name: S.L. Spiffy
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Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:37 pm

A bit of background on this project:

A few years ago my partner, Barbara, was scanning the local listings on Craig's List and called out to me that there was a steam boat listed. We have several friends with steam launches here in the San Juan Islands. I have an incomplete locomotive. I've been doing machine work for other steamers for years and years and we are avid boaters, sailing and paddling.

We went to see the boat in its lair, a self storage unit. The moment the seller rolled it out I said, "This is folly." The name stuck. The boiler and engine were brand new but the hull and trailer were a catastrophe. It was essentially the right hydrodynamic shape for a 24 foot steam launch but the materials and workmanship were as bad as it can be and still hold out the water. And it did so for several years as Barbara made him a very low ball offer and he took it. Not to be coy we bought a new Strath Steam Warrego 3 x 4 engine and a Beckmann Boatworks VFT-30 boiler for less than $5000 u.s.d. About one third of the retail cost of the components at that time.

The boat was not operable for various reasons. The steering didn't turn the rudder. The engine driven feedwater pump cannot ever have worked. And on and on. But I worked hard for a bit. Bart gave me a nice pump. Soon I was in operation. The only drawback being the paper bag over my head whenever I met a boater who knew anything about boats. "I didn't build it."

Several years passed as I used the boat to haul many, many naive passengers and have great time. But my dissatisfaction continued to fester. And then the bomb dropped. Steve Weaver started his blog about Iona. I looked at the design, decided that I liked the shape if not the methods of construction and bought a set of plans. I an in awe of the work that Steve has been doing on Iona but I lack the the moral fiber to go down that path.

In following post I'll explain the construction process a bit and post a few wretched pictures. A photographer I am not.

As a first step though, if anyone is not familiar with Stitch and Glue construction, it would be best to have a quick look at this Wikipedia page.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stitch_and_glue

Mike
Last edited by Lopez Mike on Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:52 pm

Temporary defeat. I cannot figure out how to insert a photo in a post.

I have two versions of the photo in question. One 1.3 MB and one 190K.

I click on the little "Insert image icon just above this window. I then go and copy the small image from either a viewer program (Preview in the case of this Mac) or just select the image icon from the desk top. Then try to paste it to where my cursor is in this composition window where I'm typing just now.

Like this: Image

Or this: Image

Help!!

Mike
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cyberbadger
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by cyberbadger » Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:04 pm

Mike

In the post screen
there should three buttons in a row: [Save draft] [Preview] [Submit].
1)Below these three buttons click on [Attachments]

2)Click on [Add files], Select your file to upload and click on Open.

2.5)I then see a green progress bar below [Attachments] and wait till it disappears

3)Then I click on place inline.

-CB

P.S. Thanks for the pictures! Looking good, see that wasn't that hard...
Last edited by cyberbadger on Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:32 pm

Thanks to Cyberbadger for instructing me on how to post photos!

I have a long term friend and boat builder, Scott Hauser, who is Hauser Boat Works in Olympia Washington. A majority of the work and practical methodology documented here comes from his experience and thought. This is a Hauser built boat although I have worked hard at it as well.

The boat is built almost entirely of 1/2" hardwood marine plywood at about $120 a sheet in 2019 prices. In the initial month of construction ending with a floating hull I spent about $5000 in plywood, glass cloth and resin plus various stuff. I recommend building a boat as second choice to buying a used one. Used and running steamers are a bargain almost all of the time.

I'll spare you an account of the preliminary stages but among the unexpected tricks of the trade that Scott showed me was to not only scarf three sheets of plywood together to get the length needed but to coat both sides of this giant 4' x 24' thing with cloth and resin BEFORE cutting anything out. Yes, there is wastage of cloth and resin on the scraps discarded. But the labor savings are incredible. Even the bulkheads got this treatment. Once the boat was together there was no internal cloth to drape and fight with beyond taping joints. This one idea chopped a third off of the labor and made for a much neater hull.

First picture:
The two bottom sheets have been cut out, wired together, pulled out to the correct angle and and braced in position. This one picture is an example to the entire construction process. There are no chine logs. No strongback. The bulk heads are not critical to the strength of the hull. It doesn't seem quite cricket to have the shape just happen like this.

On the right is Scott Hauser the boat builder. On the left is NOT a member of the band ZZ Top. It is a boater and electronics engineer friend, Tycho.
Bottom sheets.jpg
Bottom sheets.jpg (98.8 KiB) Viewed 484 times
Last edited by Lopez Mike on Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:54 pm

After a some intense efforts including attaching the sides, building the fantail stern, attaching a black Locust stem and I forget what else, we turned the hull upside down and started to build the keel. Note that the keel is, at first, an add on structure. When completed it was then bonded permanently to the hull. The the hull was turned again and the bottom area of the hull over the keel was unceremoniously cut out and, voila!, the same result as if we had built it all at the same time. Only very much faster.

First a shot of the beginnings of the box keel:
Inverted stern.jpg
Inverted stern.jpg (96.3 KiB) Viewed 481 times
Now a shot of the keel completed and bonded to the hull but before we turned the boat over and cut out the access to the rest of the hull.
Keel bonded.jpg
Keel bonded.jpg (100.72 KiB) Viewed 481 times
More anon.
Last edited by Lopez Mike on Mon Jun 14, 2021 12:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:03 pm

Now a shot of where we were after opening up the keel and installing bulkheads. It was all a colossal mess with dust everywhere, the dog and cat upset and me just doing whatever I was told to do. I'm a machinist and an electronics person. What's all this wood and resin stuff?
Bulkheads with Scott.jpg
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:11 pm

I'll spare you a whole saga or two of priming and painting. To be honest, it wasn't that big a deal. Since the sheets of plywood had been glassed on both sides before even cutting them to shape, there was only some taping of seams and smoothing things out with a disk sander before the prime coat. There was building a small keel forward of the box keel made of solid Locust. The stem is also Locust but is of a small cross section and is is essentially a cap piece over the ends of the plywood edges at the bow.
Blue bottom stern.jpg
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:26 pm

With the deck, we departed from our custom of coating both sides of the plywood with cloth and resin before cutting out the shapes. Too much waste. There are four pieces. Bow, stern and the two side decks. The joins were done with small backing plates. The fore deck crown is so gentle that I built some framing both to stiffen things and make it easier should I decide to add a fore hatch. Then the cloth was draped and saturated. Confidentially I own a rather substantial black powder mortar (2.2" bore. 100 pound weight) and I may be firing it from the bow. Support needed even with a great big pad under it.
Foredeck framing.jpg
Foredeck framing.jpg (117.28 KiB) Viewed 474 times
Deck work.jpg
Deck work.jpg (133.72 KiB) Viewed 474 times
Deck resin bow.jpg
Deck resin bow.jpg (117.25 KiB) Viewed 474 times
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Lopez Mike
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by Lopez Mike » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:45 pm

So here is a shot of Spiffy on the trailer and headed for captivity and idleness for two years. Covid and pressing matters intervened.

Mind you that thus far the time from the delivery of a stack of fancy plywood until this picture was taken was only a little over four weeks. We weighed it as closely as we could with a bathroom scales and levers. Around 800 lbs.

I went home and pulled the machinery out of Folly, the donor boat, and gave the hull and trailer to a local farmer. I saw it last week headed across his pasture full of cow manure. Very appropriate.

As posted recently, I launched the hull last week with boiler and engine strapped in place to check the trim. Close enough. This hull doesn't seem to be that sensitive to weight. I will probably need to solicit heavy passengers to get the prop submerged!

As of today, the engine and boiler stringers are bonded in. The hole for the propeller shaft is bored. As Scarlett in Gone With the Wind said, "Tomorrow is Another Day,"

There you go, Ron. It really exists.

Mike
At Dayton.jpg
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Re: Building Spiffy

Post by DetroiTug » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:35 am

[quote="

There you go, Ron. It really exists.

Mike

At Dayton.jpg
[/quote]

Hah, looks good!
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