Number 3, April 1995
A Frequently Asked Question
Several of you have written to me asking for the address of your nearest neighbour, so that you can perhaps get together and chew the fat. My approach to this has been to contact the neighbour, and ask them to get in touch with the person making the query. That way, I’m not divulging people’s addresses without their permission. It would obviously save us all a lot of hassle if I were to send out an address list with the next newsletter. Those I have spoken to individually say they’d have no objection to this, but some of you might. If you don’t want your name and address to appear in the address list, please let me know right away. In the next newsletter I’ll publish the names and addresses of those of you who remain silent!
Surfin’ the Internet
Three or four of us have Internet addresses and communicate using eMail. It would even be possible for me to send out this newsletter (text only) this way. (I did try sending the last one, but the photos take up one helluva lot of space and the message arrives in lots of parts which are a hassle to reassemble.) Another possibility is that I could put it up on the World Wide Web complete with colour images; but I suspect that not many of us have access to web readers. Anyway, if you’re into the infobahn, my address is:
Let me know if you have any ideas in this direction.
“Boats with an Open Mind”
I recently got my copy of Phil Bolger’s new book (title above) which was published by International Marine of Camden Maine in November 1994. There’s a great chapter on Chebacco boats – the versions except the original cold moulded one, and including a “glass house” version with balasted keel, more freeboard and a huge cabin with glass sides – worth thinking about if comfort matters and you plan to sail in rougher than average waters. You can even steer it from inside the cabin! As well as this, there are another 74 designs, some old, some new. I must confess I devoured every word of it with great relish. Essential reading for all Bolger fans.
Last time I gave you a blow by blow account of how a sheet ply Chebacco could be put together. In order to redress the balance for lapstrake builders, Gil Fitzhugh of Morristown N.J. gives the following account of the method he is using for spiling and fitting strakes:
I’ve accidentally blundered into what I think is an easy way to determine plank shapes in glued lapstrake plywood construction. I haven’t seen this written up anywhere, so feel free to put it in the next newsletter. It assumes you are using a building mold the way Tom Hill does, in his book “Ultralight Boatbuilding”, with a series of ribbands to define where the planks go.
Unlike the Chebacco, Tom’s plans and molds are small. He uses 4mm ply, narrow enough to be clamped into place with C-clamps. He clamps some plywood in place and traces the shape from the back by tipping the mold. For me to do that in the Chebacco means getting under the mold between each pair of stations, tracing the shape onto cheap quarter inch ply, and spiling it onto solid gold occume plywood. The pieces are heavy and awkward and the process requires considerable agility. So, a better way.
1. Put the last plank, the one lying on the shop floor, in place on the boat. Mark off where the next plank will land and plane the bevel.
2. Buy, or scounge enough scraps of Mylar that you can tape together a long strip, roughly the shape of the plank, but wider. The joints between the pieces can overlap as much as you want and can be attached with masking or other tape, BUT THE JOINTS MUST BE FLAT. (- no wrinkles or bulges.)
3. Roll up your strip of Mylar, take it to the boat, unroll it and tape it over the space where the new plank will go. It only requires a few hunks of tape. The Mylar MUST LIE FLAT between the bevel of the previous plank and the next ribband. Since Mylar is dimensionally stable it doesn’t take compound curves, it will lie just as flat as the next plywood plank.
4. Standing in a civilised manner on the outside of the boat, make little marks every 4 – 6 inches along the bevel line of the prior plank, and the next ribband. If you want to do both sides of the boat use two different pencil colors.
5. Roll up the Mylar, take it into the shop and unroll it over the next piece of plywood. Using an ice-pick, prick right through the Mylar into the plank stock. Remove the Mylar, clamp a batten around the prick points, draw a line, cut with a saber saw, Voilà a plank!
When it’s time to do another plank erase the x marks and reuse the same piece of Mylar. After a while it’ll have a potfull of stray prick holes in it, but that won’t affect its usefulness one whit. If the plank shape changes as you move down (up?) the boat, you can untape your Mylar segments and put them back together again in a little different alignment. In between uses, roll the Mylar up and stick the end in an old coffee can – try that with 20+ feet of spiling board!
I find I can scarf up quite narrow strips of 12mm ply to get my plank blanks, by aligning them under the Mylar and jiggling them ’til they fit. Other than the garboards, which are wider on this boat, I find I can get two whole planks, a port and a starboard, out of a single 4 X 8 sheet. So it’s economical of material as well as time.
A Stripper Chebacco
Fraser Howell of Nova Scotia reports that he’s just started making a round-bilged Chebacco to the lines of the lapstrake version, using strip planking. Fraser has built a number of strippers, including canoes and a “Catspaw” dinghy, so he’s at home with the technique. He plans to strip plank the hull from half inch pine strips and then cover the lot with a diagonal layer of eighth inch ash (sides) and quarter inch ash (bottom). The whole lot will, of course, be epoxy coated.
One of Chebacco’s great strengths is its huge, deep cockpit. Unfortunately, cockpits in boats of this size can’t be deep and self draining at the same time. A cover is therefore needed to keep the cockpit reasonably dry. If the boat is kept on the water, a cover going over the boom would seem to be the right sort of thing. Brad Story writes:
. . . the ones I’ve seen go over the boom, with snap-up cutouts for the halliards and topping lift. This way it serves also as a sail cover. This cover was secured along the edge of the deck with eye straps. These straps along the coaming would work at least as well. They’d cut down on the cover flapping – though they might chafe the finish on the coaming edge. The cover is over the cockpit only, (though a tail extends fwd and aft to cover the sail). It’s held onto the eye straps with a piece of cord thru eyelets in the cover – a little tedious to put on/take off, but strong and foolproof.
We depend on you to tell us what is of interest, so keep these letters coming. Even if you haven’t started building yet, you must have given some thought to where you want to do it. Will it be in a garage? Or a tent? Or out of doors? Let’s hear your thoughts on these and any other matters of interest.
My address is:
88 Grove Road,
Phone +44 (0)1382 776744 (Home)
+44 (0)1382 308611 (Work)
Fax +44 (0)1382 308877
Peter Gray’s Chebacco nears completion. It will be launched in Queensland, Australia. Peter has used 9mm ply for the decks in order to cut down on high weight. He plans to install a 12V bilge pump to keep the cockpit dry. He has made his rudder stock from 2″ dia steel pipe which will be galvanised. The mainmast is made from Oregon pine. Will this be the first amateur-built Chebacco to hit the water? Watch this space!