TRI to keep it WILD - Raising funds for Nature Conservancy of Canada

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The hull takes shape

After a couple months of preparations I am just about ready to start building the actual boat! The West Systems epoxy was delivered a couple weeks ago - 105 resin and 207 special hardener. I used it to laminate the stem strips that I steam bent the week before. Compared to some of the epoxy systems I worked with as an undergrad at Illinois, this stuff seems to behave really well, with the epoxy setting up slowly after about a half hour of open time without any noticeable shrinking or cracking.

Once I had the stems laminated, the forms were free to be set up on the strongback. This just involved a lot of double and triple checking of right angles and making sure everything was plumb, level and square to the strongback centerline. This was accomplished by setting up the bow and stern stem molds first and using a string line between them to line up the rest of the stations. A batten was stapled to the top to make sure all the stations are vertical and to hold them securely in place.

Next up is fitting the stems and laying on the first cedar strips.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Bending the stems

With the bow and stern forms now cut out with the clamping holes I was able to go about bending the stems this past weekend. As described in Canoecraft, I set up my makeshift steamer using a 3" dia. pipe a few inches longer than the wood strips used to make the laminated stems and the electric kettle from the kitchen. There are two sets of stems - the inside stems and the outside stems. The inside stems are made up of 3 strips of 1/4" x 3/4" Port Orford Cedar. It is these that the WRC strips will be attached to at the bow and stern of the canoe. The outer stems are made of 3 strips each of 1/4" x 7/8" Cherry that seal the end of the WRC strips once they have been laid on the forms and they also provide some impact resistance for the canoe.
I soaked the strips over night to soften them up, then stuck them in the PVC pipe in the morning with nozzle of the kettle inserted in the lower end of the pipe. The top end was plugged with rags and the kettle set to boiling with the switch held on. Each set of strips were steamed for about 25 minutes then removed and quickly wrapped around the forms. While I held the stems against the forms, Tracy tightened the clamps. I was amazed at how easily the stems bent. All in all it was a very simple process and it seems to have worked out well.