Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Prodder Tube Assembly

The first part of making the prodder tube was the fabrication of stem support and the forestay tang.  Both of these parts are cut from fiberglass laminates as defined on the plans.  I started by making shallow boxes that I lined with plastic drop cloth material.  I found that Epoxy does not stick to this material.  The drop cloth acts like a mold release.  I cut the triaxial cloth to fit the box, wetted it, placed another piece of drop cloth on top, and covered with a piece of plywood and some weights to keep the laminate flat.
After the laminates cured, I cut the pattern from the plans and bonded the pattern to the laminate using a glue stick.  It holds the pattern in place for sawing but removes easily once the parts are cut.  I cut the two parts using a scroll saw, washed them with warm water and detergent and sealed the edges with epoxy. 

Stem support

Forestay Tang

The plans suggest making the prodder tube by laying fiberglass over a mandrel and then removing the mandrel once the glass cures.  This provides a fiberglass tube.  I decided to use an aluminum tube instead.  I found a tube with the correct ID and a 1/16" wall.  I cut the tube to length and plugged one end with a plywood plug.  The plug was completely coated with epoxy and epoxied in place.  I roughed up the outside surface where the stem support and forestay tang would attach.  Using thickened epoxy, I bonded both parts to the tube using fixtures to make sure they were correctly located and square to the tube.

Once both parts were bonded to the tube and fully cured, I applied the Fiberglass strapping as defined on the plans.  I also completely covered the tube with fiberglass to prevent denting since the tube is exposed inside the anchor locker.  I'm very pleased with the results.

Having spent enough time building parts and fixtures, I decided to start building the main hull and floats.  There are still many parts that need fabrication, but I really need to see this project start to look like a boat!

Next step, bonding 4 x 8 plywood panels to make a 4 x 24 foot panel!

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