Saturday, January 12, 2008

A little flying, and a good start on the canoe

We're enjoying a bit of a respite from our normal depressing January funk this weekend, primarily due to unseasonably nice temperatures. I try to always take as good as I give, so if any of Al's global warming adherents want to toss an "I told you so" in my direction, feel free; I'll take it with a smile because, quite frankly, it's a fair cop.

The forecasters promised calm winds and scattered clouds, and that's what we got. The 35 degree temperature was no factor, easily mooted by dressing in layers of warm clothing. I've learned to wear multiple thin layers rather than a thick coat when planning on squeezing into the narrow confines of the RV, particularly on days when there are to be two souls on board. Co-pilot Rick was along for the ride, and the flight plan for the day was pretty routine: breakfast at Urbana.

The air was indeed calm, and as a consequence there wasn't much actual flying to do, per se. We had a glass smooth ride, albeit through a bit of a murky sky. The visibility was around 7 miles, which is plenty when driving but on the hazy side when flying, particularly in the winter when crystal clear air is the norm. I had a surprisingly good landing, considering that December 26th was the last time I had flown. The good weather had prompted more than a few others to make the trek to Urbana for their morning repast, but most of them were already there when we got there so we didn't have to deal with squeezing ourselves into a crowded pattern.

Despite my aversion to the name, I ordered "The Crosswind" from the menu. The Crosswind is two pancakes and the choice of ham, bacon, or sausage. I tried to avoid saying the name, mostly since I didn't want to jinx the day, but ordering by number apparently only works in Chinese restaurants. The waitress noticed my reluctance to say the name out loud, so she actually made a point of saying "Here's your Crosswind" when she brought it out. How she knew co-pilot Rick was picking up the tip today I'll never know, but it's a good thing for her that he was! I'm vindictive that way. (Just kidding - I spent enough time in the food service industry back when I was younger that I tip very well these days)

The trip back to Bolton enjoyed the same conditions, but it was a little harder to see anything since we were flying into the sun. It's sunny/hazy days like this that make one wonder why in the world everyone paints airplanes white. They're impossible to see in those conditions, so it's always a little nerve wracking tooling along at 150+ knots knowing that you won't be able to see any conflicting traffic until it's too late. Thankfully, it's a really big sky!

Co-pilot Rick brought his SUV today in order to help me bring home some canoe wood from our local Lowes. We sorted through the low cost exterior plywood, hoping to get a few good pieces. I think we rejected 8 or 9 before getting 3 that were at least suitable. I'm still convinced that I can craft a satisfactory canoe out of this wood, considering what it's going to be used for, without spending $140 to ship $150 worth of high grade wood. It's no surprise, though, that there is a tremendous difference in the quality of the wood I can find at Lowes versus the very nice Okume marine plywood that I used for the kayak. I'm willing to accept that.

You can see some of the knot holes and splits that I'm going to have to work around:

It also doesn't sit very flat on the floor:

I'll be able to work around some of that stuff just by being careful about where I place the pieces/parts, but as you can see from the nesting diagram, there's not always a whole lot of wood that doesn't get used at least somewhere:

I bought a few more things while I was at Lowes. The blade on my circular saw is too rough for the relatively precise cutting I need to do in the relatively thin 1/4" plywood, so I bought 150 tooth blade:

I would have settled for 100 teeth, but they didn't have any of those. I've also been worried about where I'm going to cut the wood. It's too flimsy to put up on sawhorses to cut, and the suggestion from the support forum on the web site is to just lay it on the floor and cut it. I'm afraid that it would be a near certainty that I would either have places where I didn't cut deep enough, or would cut too deep and hit the concrete floor with the blade, an event that I'm guessing would be detrimental to all parties involved. I decided to pick up a big sheet of 1/4" OSB to put under the plywood for cutting. This idea also had the salutary side effect of finally forcing me to decide if I'm going to shape the boat with spreaders, or if it would be better to use forms. With all of the OSB to spare, I'll go with forms. I think that will be a more robust solution anyway - I think spreaders leave a lot more of the overall shaping of the boat to chance.

When looking at the plans, it took me awhile to figure out what the extra vertical lines in the sides of the boat were supposed to indicate. The lines that are dimensioned with '24" Typ." are the baselines for measuring the outline points that will be used to shape the pieces. Once I get the idea in my head of using forms, it became clear that the unmarked lines are the locations of the forms:

[Picture removed]

The forms are the parts labeled Mold A, Mold B, and Mold C at the top of the plans.

As long as I had the OSB to work with, I went ahead and put a couple of nails in it at random locations to see how well the length of PVC pipe (more like conduit, actually, as it's pretty small diameter) would create a curve:

I think I have everything I need to get started with plotting out the cut lines on the wood and to go ahead and cut out the pieces. I had hoped that I could defer the purchase of the fiberglass and epoxy until I had the parts stitched together into the shape of the boat, but it's obvious now that I can't. The pieces get cut out and butt joined at their edges to make the full length pieces that will be required for stitching it all together. I'm going to have to break down and buy that stuff. The plans came with a $10 discount voucher towards that purchase, and with the free shipping (And, at the risk of being considered an ingrate, that probably means it will spend a few days languishing in Cincy), that's a $128 nut. Nothing for it, though. Needs done.

Of course, there's nothing to stop me from marking the 24" baselines whilst I wait:

For them what's keeping score, the cost of the saw blade, PVC pipe, and wood ran to $71.


  1. This is all well and good, but...aren't you supposed to be bending willow ribs and stretching deer hide or something? It's a canoe, right?

  2. Well, yes, it's a canoe, but it's a vegan canoe. Deer hide is right out.