Some Progress – and Making a Small Mistake Into a Big Mistake

Minor foot injury has kept me kind of sidelined for awhile. Nothing major, just enough that it hurts to be on my feet for any lengthy period of time. Happy to say that with a few weeks of resting when possible it’s getting better and I’ve been slowly getting back to the kayak project. No long stretches, but an hour or two here and there has been possible.

So I’ve been kind of unhappy with the rear hatch. I think I may have mentioned it previously, but if not, after building the lip, installing the magnets and the fiberglass I find that it sits proud of the deck a bit.

It isn’t a lot but still, to me, very noticeable. Bright idea to fix this relatively minor issue… let’s sand and feather the edges of the cover down so it blends in with the deck. That’ll make it totally un-noticeable. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

At least until I sanded too aggressively and an attempt to make it blend perfectly and exposed the backside of the magnet! Oops. I found a thin scrap that seemed to be pretty close and glued it over, then when dried sanded that back down a bit more carefully this time. It’s not bad, but even after re-fiberglassing and expoying it the “patch” is still obvious. Sure it’s maybe the size of a nickel so pretty small in the grand scheme. I may end up leaving it as a reminder to pay more attention or I may have a way to cover it. Not sure yet.

I did a lot of sanding giving the deck both inside and out a through sanding. The goal is to start getting it ready for attachment to the hull. Both sides still need another coat of epoxy but only the inside will receive it now, the outside will wait until after the two halves are joined. Anywhere I’ve got drips, runs or other uneven surfaces got extra attention in an attempt to end up with a smooth over all suface.

I readjusted the spreading boards, sized them a little better and fit them in below the second detail stripe. This should be far enough out of the way to leave them in place while the connecting strip of fiberglass is laid on both halves in the hopefully not to distant future.

Directly behind the front hatch and directly behind the cockpit will be a bulkhead to keep the forward and rear sections water tight in the event of water coming over the coaming, or overturning or…

I looked at a few options and settled on a self built bulkhead panel. To begin I found the two forms that most closely matched these positions. Using left over strips I then cut them to length, plus a little extra, and glued them together over the forms. To avoid gluing them to the form I covered it in tape first. A bunch of clamps held everything together.

Once dry I’ll remove them, trim and fit to size and then fiberglass each for strength and waterproofing. Eventually they’ll be held in with mostly caulk.

The final area I worked on was the foot braces. Since this will be very difficult if not impossible to get right once the deck and hull are joined it made sense to install it at this time. At least partially.

I’m using a kit from CLC Boats which includes the rails and the foot pads. It is designed to be screwed through the side of the kayak. But I added the post option which allows for installation with out drilling holes in the kayak.

Late last year I had sat in the kayak with the deck in place and figured where my heels would be and about where my toes would end up. I also worked out where I expected the bulk head to be. With these approximate locations I fit the pads to the rails and then added a few notches for adjustment and positioned the rail where I thought it should be.

With some measurements I determined the location on one side and then mirrored this on the other side following the same measuring process. A quick placement of the deck ensured adequate space for the bulkhead to be added.

The posts could be threaded on, but then it would be very hard to install everything so instead the instructions actually recommend drilling out the rails slightly to be a slip fit instead. So a test at the drill press to verify the bit size and then four quick holes and everything fit nicely.

The rails actually have a top and a bottom… well at least I assume the side with the notches are the bottom designed to let any water drain out. For placement this isn’t critical but will be when final installation is performed. I taped the rails back into exact placement and then masked around where the fiberglass will go. The space was sanded to ensure a good bond.

With four spots marked and the rails out of the way I mixed up some very thick epoxy and smeared a dab in the middle of each square. The posts were carefully pushed into the epoxy and then a small square of fiberglass with a hole in the middle was pushed over and into the epoxy. At this point I taped over the threads to avoid accidentally getting epoxy on them.

Finally normal non thickened epoxy was applied to wet out the cloth and get everything seated nicely.

As a final step I placed the rails back in place to ensure the posts were in the exact right spot as once the epoxy set up I wouldn’t be able to adjust them.

The next day I removed the rails and with the epoxy set but still a little soft I trimmed the fiberglass patch and removed the tape. An additional coat of epoxy will be added next time I’m mixing some up. Unfortunately the last shot is blurry but it does show a completed post in place. Next time I’m working on it I’ll try to get a better shot.

I’ll look for any other steps I need to do on the inside, otherwise it’s getting close to the time when I can attach the deck to the hull.

Continued Hatch Work, and Some Other Stuff

The inside hull received a thorough sanding to knock down any high spots and stray bits in the surface. Afterwards it was vacuumed and wiped down to remove the dust. A final coat of epoxy was applied to the entire inside of the hull. It will still need a light sanding before final finish (varnish) is applied, but otherwise is essentially done surface wise. I’m not too worried if it remains a bit “rough” as this texture will be better for foot grip than a smooth slick surface.

Moving on to the front hatch that was cut last time, I finished up the lip and fit it to the inside. The mounting ring of the hatch was also cut to size and laid out. I used some round plastic spacers to work out positioning of the magnets.

With everything worked out the lip was glued (with epoxy) to the underside of the deck.

A few days later when the epoxy dried, the pieces of the hatch ring were placed again and a small hole drilled where each magnet would go. I removed the pieces and then using the hole as a guide drilled the larger hole sized for the magnet with a forstner bit. I stacked the two magnets and using a metal tool (a scraper from before) to hold them I test fit the magnet to ensure it would be fully recessed. When needed I drilled the hole a bit deeper until it fit as I wanted.

The magnets were then epoxied into the holes in each board being careful to keep the orientation correct. Installing one backwards would result in repulsion which would not be good. With everything epoxied in I wrapped the lip with fiberglass strips and soaked it with epoxy. On the underside I used more epoxy thickened with silica and microfibers to make a paste which was applied to the hard edges of the lip and then this too was covered over with fiberglass. A final flood of epoxy was used to wet out the cloth.

This process was pretty much the same as the previous hatch.

A few days later, again after everything was dried, I relayed out the hatch ring on the lip and used hot glue on it and the pressed the hatch on top. I had hoped this would allow me to raise the hatch when the glue cooled and have the pieces perfectly aligned. Unfortunately the magnets were too strong and this didn’t work.

So plan B. I taped the hatch in place, flipped it over and laid out tape to mark where the pieces would go. I then removed the hatch, used the tape to align the ring pieces and epoxied each piece into place and clamped them all to dry.

Finally, after some inquiries on line I found out that the hull “shrinking” and no longer being in alignment with the deck is fairly common. Once they’re aligned and epoxied together they would stay, in the mean time it was suggested to drop in some spreader boards to help flex it back into the shape/position that it should be. So I measured the deck edges, subtracted the hull width on each side and slipped some boards into place. I’ll leave them there for a few days and see if it helps get the hull back to the correct dimensions.

Hatch Prep and Hatch Pulls

The 3/8″ spacers were epoxied in so I started building up the lip from the small pieces I cut last time. Tape was applied to the underside so the pieces would stick to each other but not yet to the boat. They will need clean up before I’m ready to attach them. I’ll also need a bump out on the bottom of the hatch so I glued up a couple of scrap pieces to get a section wide enough to hold the magnets.

While these were drying I thought of an idea for a hatch pull. A few more scraps arranged in a somewhat decorative pattern and I had a glue up drying.

Later, after the first hatch side lip was dried I removed the clamps, and the lip and glued up the second side.

The hatch pulls were dried so I started sanding them. I probably could have pulled out the power sander and got them done quicker but hand sanding worked well and didn’t take that long. I shaped one until I was happy with it and then used it as a template for the other one. A piece of sand paper was taped to the hatch in the approximate location for the pull and I sanded the bottom of the pull to match the curvature of the hatch.

Mounting is planned to be done with a single screw from underneath and then fiberglass and epoxy coating all of the pull (and onto the deck) and at least a layer of epoxy to protect the screw head on the bottom.

Finally got back to work on it.

After a long winter, a cool spring and a bunch of misc projects including re-arranging the garage for a better shop experience I’m finally back to working on the kayak.

To get back in the grove I did a bit of sanding. A quick sand over the entire deck top, initially to hit the drips and other high spots but mostly focusing on the coaming area.

As promised I agreed to share not only the successes but also the mistakes. So first off I noticed that the deck and the hull did not align as they did on the forms. I’m guessing the fiberglassing and epoxying pulled the sides in. Not sure if I’m going to try to stretch them out when I attach the two together or if I’ll trim off the overhang on the deck to get them to align again. Either way it’ll take some research to figure out the best approach.

Mistake number two. Yeah, this one kind of hurts. I decided to do a front hatch instead of a bulkhead hatch and I found one of my templates from last year and laid it out. I’m actually going to use the inner area so it’ll be cut smaller than the template BUT after laying it out equal distance from the sides I noticed a big problem. It does not look centered. Upon further review and triple checking my measurements I noticed the two front detail panels do not follow the same curve. One has a more gentle curve, the other curves out more quickly. Unless you pay attention this really isn’t obvious but with the hatch it becomes more apparent when the sides don’t look “equal”.

I noticed this actually last weekend and was obsessing over it this week. I kept wracking by brain trying to come up with an option and failing that was even considering redoing the entire deck. Then while listening to a podcast (Fine Woodworking) one of the topics happened to be essentially
how to stop obsessing over perfection.” I took it to heart and realized that unless I point out the “mistake” most people will never noticed and if this is the worst “problem” I have with my first kayak build then I need to be happy with it.

So I’m not going to sweat this and just accept it as is. Visually it might be a little off and I’ve decided I’m OK with that.

With that crisis averted I moved on to finishing the layout and cutting the hatch. Just like the last one I did it by hand and it worked just fine. Without the fear of a power tool going awry the stress of making the cut is really pretty low.

With the tape removed I started to layout out the support structure for the hatch. Last time I used 1/4″ plywood spacers and then built up the lip, but the hatch is sitting proud and will need some sanding to bring it down. So this time I went with 3/8″ spacers. It’ll be easier to build up a layer than to try to bring the surface down. The pieces were cut and epoxied into place. I’m going to use the basswood strips to make the lip so I cut a bunch of small pieces in preparation for the next step. A few shots including one from the inside of the epoxied on spacers shows that I still have some inside sanding and clean up to do.

It felt good to get back into the build. Originally I was hoping to start in April and be done by Memorial weekend, not first start at the end of May but I still believe I’ll be done and have it on the water before the end of summer.

Oh, and I’m going to try enabling comments again in case of questions. Let’s hope the spammers don’t start filling the queue again.

Comments off

At this time I have turned of the ability to submit comments. I’m getting upwards of 10 spam comments submitted each day and frankly I’m tired of the email notifications and the efforts (every so often) to go wholesale mark as spam and delete. So for now no more commenting will be allowed. When I start back up in the spring I may or may not turn them on again.