Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Martin's building jig

Further pix from Martin's Mistral build.  These show the details of his building jig for those who are contemplating a Mistral building project for the coming winter months.

The empty building jig.

Gusset details.


The jig with the hull stably in place.

The original instructions which are part of the Mistral plans provide no details of how to pull up the boat without twisting or other misshape anomalies.  The plans just indicate that you should pull up the two hull skin panels around the main bulkhead with a Spanish windless and then hang the boat for a few days like a piece of beef to allow the "kinks" to work out of the hull.  Constructing a jig such as the one pictured here gives the builder a lot more control over the out come.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

New Jerseyana, Exhibit 5: Love's Labor Lost?

I was down on the Jersey shore this past Labor Day weekend.  The family had departed and I was left alone waiting for a Home Despot crew that was supposed to install some replacement windows but never showed up.  So, after hanging up the telephone at the conclusion of an unprofitable conversation with HD home services, I went for a beach walk which is healthier than fuming about a crew of "no shows" that cost me a vacation day.  Now, as I walk the beach, I tend to look for interesting items:  odd sea shells, bits of stranded fishing gear, this and that; nothing particularly valuable has ever come from this but I always enjoy the walk and the excitement of finding "stuff".  Today was a bit different.  Today I found a message on a clam shell:


Well, hello indeed.

No doubt "Medic" Juan was hoping that his shell would be found by a beautiful and inquisitive young girl.  But as it is with the vagaries of both love and objet d'art left on the beach, it was found instead by a grumpy old diarist attempting to walk off his frustrations.   I stopped and picked it up.  After reading the message, I was tempted to see how well it would "skip" if I threw it against the incoming tide.  Instead I put it in my pocket for the ride home.  But what should I do with this special shell?  I could place it with the multitude of shells which my renters have collected and abandoned in my flower gardens.  My wife would probably say that it looks "cute" but the romantic in me suggests that I should put the shell back out on the beach, perhaps on a day filled with import for lovers like St. Valentine's Day.  But in February who would see it?  It would be a shame for Juan's shell to strike out twice, and perhaps permanently. Perhaps I'm over thinking this.  Perhaps Juan is already back in sunny Spain, drinking wine and breaking hearts.  What should I do?  What would you do?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

British Seagull--A post for the Motor Heads in the audience.

Along with building and restoring racing dinghies, Martin Scott is also fond of mechanical projects.  Over the years he has owned Austin Healey Sprites, various MGs, etc. but his latest "motoring" project is an outboard motor:  A British Seagull Model 40 Plus.  Martin restored this one for his dinghy rather than buy a new Honda or Mariner. Its re-machined with new rings - re-chromed and with all new gaskets and decals. Martin says she goes first pull.

Martin, did you really restore this?  She looks brand new!

Seems simple enough.  Just wrap a bit of old clothesline around the top pulley and give her a yank, right?  Well actually it's a bit more than that.  Here's the simplified starting procedure (taken from "SOS" Saving Old Seagulls): 

Motor cold.
Release the air bleed screw on the filler cap a half turn.
Pull open fuel tap.
Close choke. (restricting air supply)
Press 'tickler' on carb till fuel just spills out.
Open throttle to full. (frequent usage may allow you to determine that you can use less throttle to start.)
Ensure motor in neutral, if clutch or gears fitted.
Wrap pull cord 3 times round rope pull, clockwise.
(Move crew away from just behind you!)
Steady tank with left hand and give steady but sharp pull on rope. (turning flywheel clockwise).
Motor should start on 2nd pull.
If not started after 4 pulls look to see what you forgot!
If nothing seems amiss, check plug to ensure you have spark, see if plug wet...
Make sure fuel is less than 3 months old and correctly mixed, either 10:1 or 25:1. depending on age of British Seagull.  Never less than 25:1 though!!
If motor has not been started in many a month, try 'super flooding' by simply placing cloth in your hand, over the carb intake, thus injecting copious amounts of fuel, and lubricating/sealing dry bearing surfaces.
Whip rag away when it fires!
As soon as motor fires up, shut throttle down to avoid racing and open choke as soon as you can, normally within seconds....
Check for coolant flow. (should be the thickness of pencil, dropping back to the water.)

(If motor hot, do not flood to start.)

Lovely restoration.  Almost too pretty to use.  I confess that every now and then I look at Seagull motors on fleabay.  But I then I wake up, smell the Castrol and after reminding myself of all the other projects I have which are unfinished, I go lay down in a dimly lit room and take a few deep breaths until the temptation passes.

The iconic sailor with a sail bag over one shoulder and a light weight Seagull motor in the other hand was featured in every advertisement I saw as a teenager reading random copies of Yachts and Yachting which were laying about at Brigantine YC, courtesy of one of the senior members. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Further pix from Cornwall

Yesterday, Martin Scott teased us with a single photo of his Mistral.  This morning he provided several more pix showing the boat at various stages during construction.


This shot shows us why this type of construction is referred to as "stitch and glue".  One "sews" the two sides of the boat together with either copper wire or nylon zip ties and then pulls the skin panels into shape, usually around the main bulkhead.  Once the shape has been optimized, by locally loosening or tightening wires as required, fiber glass tape wetted out with epoxy resin is laid over the inside of the seams.  Once the resin cures the wires on the external side are trimmed off and an additional layer of glass tape is applied to the outside of the seams.  One can think of the adjustment of the tension on the various wires, to achieve the desired shape, as similar to the process a bicycle mechanic goes through while truing a spoked wheel.

Here, the skin panels have been pulled up around one of the bulkheads.  The ratchet strap is a convenient way to adjust tension while tweaking the the shape before permanently glassing bulkhead in place.

The main bulkhead and center board trunk.  The strips of laminated timber on either side of the trunk help establish the shape of the keel line.  I like the IMCA Moth insignia applied to the bulkhead.  Nice touch.

Copper wire "stitching" along the keel line on either end of the center board trunk.  The prop and shaped piece of wood, like the laminated timbers in the preceding photo help define the shape of the keel's rocker.  Many Mistrals have an awkward knuckle in the bottom aft of the trunk which is created when the skin panels are being tortured into place.  This one will not! 

More details of the bracing Martin employed in insure the hull will be twist-free when finished.


The bow after the wires have been cleaned off and the outside layer of glass tape applied.  Hopefully Martin will keep us updated as construction moves along!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Meanwhile, down in Cornwall...

A few years ago Martin Scott over in Penzance requested a set of Mistral plans.  We had a bit of bother with the international post but he eventually got them.  Martin was at that time busy with the restoration of a pair of National 12 dinghies and so the Moth, although started, was left on the back burner.  Today Martin sent me a photo of his Mistral hull which he built in a female jig.  She looks quite nice!  Here's what Martin has to say:  "I built it in a female frame jig on the floor and I took it out yesterday to see if will stay straight on its own. Yes its very stable with just a 2mm adjustment on the port gunwale a couple of feet from the bow.  . I should finish the keel tape and resin tomorrow so it can go back in the jig for finishing. I have used Robbins 4mm five ply and should look nice when all varnished. In the above state we are up to 19kg which is not bad as 5 ply is quite heavy. I have eye surgery scheduled for October - notwithstanding all my problems I still hope to have the Moth finished and sailing it in the spring."

Evolution fresh from the jig.  She looks quite sweet.  I hope Martin sends some detailed pix of that building jig.  Most guys pull up the skin panels of a Mistral hull by eye and hence no two Mistrals are ever quite the same!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Maine Moth Boat Update

You may recall that I posted a few pix of a pair of Moth Boats under construction at Cottrell's Boats up in Maine.  Today Lynn Cottrell sent me some new pix of boats as the project gets closer to the finish line.  They're looking good, don't you think?!  Sails have been ordered.  All that remains is to rig spars and add a few bits of hardware.  Hopefully these boats will be sailing before the season ends.