The Harmonica Log, Part Two
Two: From the outfitting of the interior to the loading onto
From before the beginning (of the log) to the flipping
of the hull
Three: From initial launching to present day
-- continued fine-tuning.
day, I put the beams in place for the deck.
May 02: Today I put in the beams for the deck, though
I need to do some more work to support the beams, since I opted
for butt joints
May 02: Things are
coming right along. Primed and painted the space below the
foredeck and cut and installed the deck, too. I was worried
about the strength of the beams until I hit on a scheme for
bracing, especially the after end. The color scheme now is
burgundy red, yellow, and blue glo white, all Interlux. The
boat trailer is supposed to arrive early next week. Next building
step is to trim and caulk the foredeck. I have an idea for
breaking up the boat's boxiness by using a lot of stern knee-style
braces to introduce some curves.
beams are braced with 11/2 square spruce at the
after end. Two coats of primer in place.
foredeck got a coat of epoxy and fiberglass tape
on the center and aft seams.
I cut out the windows.
I outlined with pine.
June 02: I decided to cut out the windows as shown
in the plans, which leaves only narrow pylons instead of expanses
of plywood on the sides of the boat. More plywood on the sides
would increase the problems with crosswinds. The two Harmonicas
that I've seen photos of have small windows and lots of plywood
on the sides; mine is all windows. Still no word on the trailer.
by 2s in place along the boat sides for the two plywood
June 02: Hotter today, and getting a bit muggy, which
will continue for most of the week, apparently. Glad I did
a lot of the epoxy work before this heat; the epoxy has been
setting up a bit too quickly of late. I got spoiled by all
those days in the 50s. I put in 2- by 2-inch strips of spruce
on the sides of the boat down low to support the plywood berths
-- one 19-inch-wide by 64-inch-long berth on each side of
the central walkway. The view in the pic at right is from
aft: You see the partition between the motor area in the after
section of the boat, then the cabin section, which is about
64 inches long, and then the cavity under the foredeck. The
object in the foreground of the photo is a low stool with
a gray top. Tomorrow I'll cut out the berths and stiffen them
with 2 by 2s at each end and in the middle, short-ways. If
the plywood is not stiff enough after that, I'll add some
longitudinal stiffeners, too, and maybe a hand hole. Also
might drill some holes in the 2 by 6 stiffeners for ventilation
under the berths, which will be in place most of the time.
Still no firm word on the trailer, though I keep asking Obersheimer's,
and they keep asking the manufacturer.
June 02: Outlined the windows with 3/4- by 1-inch pine
inside and out. Still need to put thickened epoxy in cracks
in the job. In keeping with the theme of this being a boat
built only with materials from home stores, I got some beautiful
yellow pine strips at Lowe's in suburban Rochester for duckboards.
The other day I made the butt joints on the roof plywood,
but I'm not going to put the roof on until I paint inside.
Lots of detail work to go. Money worries have dictated that
I will try to get my dad's post-war 5-horse outboard shipped
here so I can see if I can get it to run for this season at
least. Still no delivery on the trailer. However, I'm still
on track for a launch during July 4th holiday.
June 02: The trailer is finally in, but I have to wait
until Tuesday for the guy who does the paperwork to get back
from a long weekend. I've been working hard on the boat. Today
was humid and mid-80s with an ozone warning. Hard day for
painting, but the priming is done. I even put sand in the
primer on the foredeck for a non-skid surface. A bunch of
little guys from the neighborhood were asking me all about
the boats and what was the sand for. I didn't know what to
tell them. It sure was odd to put sand on a boat. I'm using
that blue masking tape on the trim that doesn't set up hard,
so I'll leave it on until I'm done with the painting. I'm
still not sure whether I'll epoxy the walkway before painting
or just paint. I will be making the duckboards, though. The
trim has two coats of high-build marine varnish. After painting,
the roof goes on and the railings, too. And a foam-and-fabric
cover for the berths. The trailer is a brown color. Looks
good. Some other kids came by while my wife happened to be
out talking with me. One of them said he didn't think it would
float. A lot of people say stuff like that. I suppose it's
a logical question ... .
from left: The painting is almost over. The walkway,
shown at top right, will be yellow, with duckboards
on top. At lower right is a closeup of the sanded
deck, before the final coat of white paint.
June 02: Another hot and humid day. Did about six hours
on the white paint on the interior of the boat. The whole
week is supposed to be hot and humid. Tomorrow could hit 90.
The sand on the foredeck for a non-skid surface came out nicely,
and the paint scheme is extremely bright and busy. As my wife
put it, they'll certainly see us coming. The next step is
to finish the rails that bolt to the bow and cabin at each
side, and then to install the roof and 2x4 stiffeners on the
roof. Plus a bunch of gussets. Tomorrow I'm going to pick
up the trailer and get it registered. Got the hitch ball and
wiring done today. I'm on vacation for a while, so a July
4 launch is certain.
views of the boat. View at right shows roof overhangs.
The stick in the view at right is a temporary stretcher.
June 02: Finally got the trailer home today. It took two
trips to the DMV. Put the trailer on one side of the garage
with the skiff, the dink, and a load of junk. I'll make new
bunks that will give Flipper (our name for the Harmonica)
better support. Also found out that there is going to be a
long delay while DMV in Albany processes paperwork for the
boat. This will mean a delay past July 4 for the launch. Also
decided to go with regular deep-cycle marine battery instead
of a gel battery and special charger, saving about $200. Also
picked up about 45 running feet of moulding. And two-part
foam to make 2.5 cubic feet of floatation. Also put the roof
on. Been busy.
roof beams in place and bolted in.
run on the deck rails. The uprights trim flush.
July 02: Installed the 2x4x10-foot roof beams and the
deck rails. The roof beams take three bolts on each side.
I made 2x2-inch blocks from some hard oak These I lag-bolted
to the frames and then drilled for the bolts. That was a time-consuming
task in itself. It's been hot and muggy for days, and
I've been working 10 to 12 hours on the boat per day, trying
to maximize vacation time. July 4th launch is out of the question
because of the delays I'm facing in getting the boat registered.
I still have a lot to do to finish, including some kind of
window treatment and some floatation. It's a disappointment
that paperwork is delaying the launch. Next job is to put
some moulding around the deck and install gussets that I made
today to stiffen the deck rails some, though they don't really
seem to need it; I also wanted to introduce some decorative
curves to offset the relentless boxiness of this boat. Then
paint the walkway zone and make duckboards. Installing the
bolts through the hull for the deck rails was a slice. I tried
last week to install them but gave up after hours of frustration.
This time I triumphed. Lying on my back under the deck on
a 85-degree day with high humidity is more fun that I've had
since the pig ate my brother. Since I work alone, I used that
swell blue masking tape to hold the bolts in place while I
crawled under and tightened the nuts. NB: If you build
a Harmonica (and I hope you will) be sure to install the deck
rails before you put the plywood decking in place. That will
save a lot of salty talk.
July 02: Still waiting on Albany to process the paperwork
for a Hull ID Number (HIN). I got a reply to an email that
I sent to Jim Michalak, who designed the Harmonica (did I
mention that he is my favorite boat designer?). Jim said that
he has never heard of the Coast Guard inspecting a small homebuilt
boat. He sent me a document called Safety Standards for Backyard
Boat Builders that the Coast Guard offers on homemade boats,
which spells out floatation needs and placement, and a bunch
of other helpful stuff such as capacity in weight and in persons,
engine limits, ventilation, fuel systems, and electrical systems.
He said that the Harmonica could take up to an 18-horsepower
outboard; could carry 800 pounds total person weight; and
would need 8 cubic feet of floatatoin foam, which he suggested
putting in the four corners of the boat (though he does not
know of any Harmonica owners who have used floatation). He
was skeptical of my plan to use a 30-thrust electric trolling
motor "in any sort of wind or current or distance,"
He advises a 5 hp outboard as a minimum for those conditions.
His final comment on floatation was that "in the reality
of homemade boats, buoyancy chambers work pretty good,"
referring to the kind of air boxes that he designs into his
two foam blocks at left are for the inside of the
foreward bulkhead. I'll epoxy them to the bulkhead
on its forward side under the foredeck. The two blocks
at right will go in the stern corners. The blocks
in the back row are still in the forms that I used.
July 02: Been
gone for a week but back now. I poured 2.5 cubic feet's worth
of two-part foam gunk into a plastic storage box to see how
it would act and what it would produce. I got a hard foam
blank 16 inches by 18 inches by 12 inches tall, with the top
2 inches domed. Had to cut the storage box in half to get
the foam out, and the bottom inch was messed up because of
the way I poured in the first bottle, then after sloshing
it around, poured in the second. I figure that the mix was
off by a hair, which messed up the very bottom of the block.
I cut that part off with my Japanese thin kerf saw (Japan
Tools in Alameda, CA. About $25 bucks, and worth much more.
The Weekend Skiff guys recommend this sort of saw in the plans
book). Since getting back from California, I also have epoxy-coated
the foredeck rails, the top deck rails, and all the trim pieces
I used around the foredeck. One day in California, it was
116 degrees F. Back here it's only 80+/100. Not so bad. That's
80 degrees and 100 percent humidity. Still, I've been doing
a lot of sitting in my special boat chair and not much actual
work. Two days later, I made a form with thin plywood to make
the floatation blocks for the stern corners, and I fished
out of the trash the plastic storage box that I had to cut
in half to remove the first foam block that I made. I reused
it to make a second block.
side platform in stern (shown) will be a cooking surface.
Port side will be the pilot's seat.
Good news today! I called the state office that was processing
my paperwork for a Hull Identification Number. They sent the
paperwork on to the Erie County Sheriff's Department's Marine
Unit on July 5. I called the Marine Unit and will be taking
the boat to them early next week. It ends up that their office
is on the Niagara River in our part of town. We're going to
ask our friends to come by this weekend to put the boat on
the trailer, and I need to locate a trolling motor and battery
now, too. In working today on the boat, I finished framing
in the benches in the stern that will hide and imprison the
foam blocks that I've prepared. I went with one diagonal brace,
which on each side presses tightly on the foam block. I put
three 1-inch by 1.5-inch spacers under each foam block. I'll
put two round holes in each top for ventilation, and there
is a 1-inch space at the bottom for ventilation, too.
side bench in place. Port side is identical.
July 02: I was sitting around in my study at church yesterday
in Niagara Falls and in reading the Local Rag ran across a
classified ad for a 47-thrust MotorGuide trolling motor, battery,
and charger for $150, which is about 50 percent off the list
price for the motor alone. So I bought it. The guy had a small
fishing boat last year that he didn't like, so when he bought
a bigger boat this year, it came with a trolling motor rig.
So the one I got is a year old. I was hoping for a little
more oomph that the 25- to 30-thrust models that are readily
available in retail outlets here. It looks like a launch next
weekend is not beyond reasonable expectation. Last night,
I also put the plywood tops and sides on the frames that hold
the aft floatation blocks. I used lauan on the top and bc
pine on the sides, partly to use up pieces on hand and partly
to introduce a little of the bc pine that I can finish bright.
The lauan tops match the rooftops. If it looks weird, though,
I can always paint the bc pine.
Sittin' pretty. Top right: Photos for posterity.Right,
Mike, Mary, and the Reverend take a rest.
July 02: Our friends Mike and Mary came over this afternoon
to help us lift the boat onto the trailer, which went OK until
final push. A guy walking by offered to help, and his added
strength made a big difference. The day was hot and what theWeather
Service calls sultry, instead of just plain humid. It was
about 80 when we did the work. I spent about an hour moving
junk around in preparation for the
lifting event, and I put the skiff up in the rafters again
with a double block that someone nailed to the peak of the
ceiling in the garage, which is high because of an equal-hip
roof. I also spent an hour moving the two struts on the trailer
so they would accommodate the skids on the bottom of the boat.
I despaired of getting it right, but after trying a few alternatives,
got it right. Later, we got a dolly assembly for the trailer,
which will help us push the boat into the garage, since it's
just too tight to back in, at my present skill level. We were
going to do the cushions in the evening, but I couldn't find
the staple gun, so that will be for another day.
car was moving when the tree hit it.
July 02: News flash: I got the Hull Identification Number
and the registration numbers today.
Things went very smoothly. The deputies were helpful with
the HIN (though one did say, "So this
is a boat?"), and I was lucky enough to get the same
DMV worker who helped me with my boat trailer registration
at the Broadway office of the DMV. The weather has been unsettled,
and it looks like Friday will be the launch day. We had a
lot of excitement in the neighborhood last night. A tree crashed
down on a car moving down the street during a thunderstorm.
We were without power all night and half the morning. That
got me off to a slow start on my quest for numbers for the
boat. I also went the Kmart and Obersheimer's and got all
the little safety items, such as flares and flags and anchor.
From before the beginning (of the log) to the flipping
of the hull
Three: From initial launching to present day
-- continued fine-tuning.