You can’t beat putting the big bits together to look like progress! It’s
certainly a rewarding feeling seeing the deck and toy box attachments coming along, but what is more satisfying is when design aspects that were left “for later” become finalized. The toy box and bridge deck attachments were in the “for later” list and are now becoming a reality. The rudder release attachment is also making progress as each new prototype redesign brings the concept closer to realization. Today we’re having a day off as some of the test equipment in the shed is being utilized, but Tuesday will be a big toy box tow layup day.
Load testing. Video here.
August 2021 #2
The push is on to get the hull beam connections to a stage where we can test the strength by lifting the WW hull with ropes attached to the mast tops. Carbon tow is being added to high load points, parts already built are being cut off or discarded, and design changes are coming fast and furious. Both beam end attachments have changed, the masts have changed significantly, rudder mounts and wing sails are still prototypes and constantly evolving. While the construction continues Rob has been making progress with marketing and sponsorship which will also change our launch plans. Although it all seems a bit chaotic the end result seems to be a shortening of the time left to go on this stage of the build. I’m avoiding details in this update because things are changing so fast, and I’m not sure what Rob is ready or able to comment on. I’m sure he will answer any questions in due course, keeping in mind he is pretty busy right now 🙂 Rob Rassy
August 2021 #1
Now that the main components (except the wings for the masts) are built, it is loose end time. Lots of little jobs finishing everything off. Best described by 95% finished, 95% to go.
I decided to simplify things and save some money (the carbon pultrusions have almost doubled in price since we bought the first ones) and start off with a 2 section telescoping mast rather than 3. Means beefing up the top section we have built so it will function as a second section, which I did most of this week.
There is a pretty good chance that we will be getting Wisamo inflatable sails. A few more hoops to jump through, and the usual financial issues, but looking good. Should know in September. Meanwhile, we will keep playing with the wing rig because it is interesting. We are also looking at making it tail controlled. This may also work on the inflatable sail.
Other loose ends tied up:
We bonded in the lower mast supports, an unpleasant job grinding in an enclosed space, then glassed in the ring frame and wrapped the deck bearing in carbon tow. These could have been (and will be next time) included in the infusion. Fortunately they weren’t as the mast design changed significantly between then and now. The reinforcing is preparation for a hull lifting test to check the mast and beam strength, the hulls’ torsional stiffness and the connections. We tried a reverse lift (caught aback) and decided to change from lashing to 40mm dia carbon pins, which also hold the beam struts in place.
Built a mould and section of the rubbing strake for the tender, still looking for a suitable material to make it into a fender.
Laid up the chocks for the mast/beam interface which was one of the ‘worry about it later’ jobs. It looks like they will work.
Rob R has been playing with wing prototypes and the best way to build them, I have been working on the telescoping and weighing up wing mast/sail, 2 piece and 10 piece solid wings with and without a tail and a flat sail lashed to the mast with Chinese style sheeting. A lot of variables, hopefully the decision will be made by Michelin/Wisamo.
Rob R also made a test assembly for my ultra simple rudder kick up system I have been ‘perfecting’ for the last few months. Took one look at it and simplified it! A lot. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Looking forward to testing it next week.
The new hinges for the toybox work well.
We made a glass and bog hatch garage which is pretty basic, but should be thief proof and watertight. When I get time to use the UQ sewing machine, I will build a pram hood over the hatch so watertight won’t be a problem.
The ww hull is now closed up, ‘just’ got to make it pretty enough to paint. Apart from sanding, bogging and patching a few holes this involves moving it away from the shed wall. Fortunately, it is still light enough to do this by sliding one end then the other. We then need to tip it over to fair and epoxy/copper the bottom, which will be an interesting test of the structure, particularly the deck which is unsupported until we know where the frames for the solar panels go.
Unstepped the masts and removed the beams solo, which was a little nerve wracking. Once the masts were out, the beams were resting on the lee hull and the ww hull was heeled 20 degrees. I had to get it level to remove the beams. Lifted one beam about 6″/150mm (some of which was spacer compression which will be eliminated when the tapers are added to the beams) and the other one started to lift, which was surprising and gratifying as I was unsure of the torsional stiffness of the windward hull. Looks like it will do the job. However, this is a complicated way to remove the beams, so we chopped off the top of the case, making fitting and removing much easier. They may be lashed in or the tow replaced, depending on how often the boats will be disassembled.
Lashing will please the Marshallese, who replaced my tapered beams in sockets with traditional lashings (almost, they used nylon fishing twine) after the beams slipped out in an early test. The plan was for the trampoline, mainsheet and stay pressure to hold them in place. Would have worked except we sailed without the tramp, broke the leeboard lashing and got a tow in, but the tow boat put us wrong side to the wind and the rig fell down. No mainsheet or stay and out the beams popped. Quick thinking by one of the crew meant nothing broke, but it was a lost cause. They are now building another one, which is great news.
I’ve been asked to speak at a conference for traditional and modern boat builders, with emphasis on zero emissions and locally built, situation suitable vessels. Some interesting people have been invited, it should be an informative couple of days.
A group of switched on Fijian business people and academics (SSTI, see attached) have offered to do all the ground work for a trial route from Suva to the islands to the east and south. This is a huge load off me and should ensure there are no cultural, legal or procedural missteps. The routes consist of short hops, max of about 100 kms/70 miles. These routes will show us what works and what doesn’t and should reduce what was intended to be 3 years of demonstrating into 6 months. All going well, the next step is to set up a boat building facility in Fiji and start producing them, followed by a shipping company to start using them. SSTI are actively seeking funds for both ventures. It is astonishing how many grants are available and how many boxes the cargo proa ticks on those grants. They are also getting interest from other parts of the Pacific, in particular the Solomon Islands.
SSTI reckon launching in Fiji is a better idea than launching here from a PR point of view. They have an assembly and launch site arranged on the shore of Laucala Bay (east of Suva) which they want to make into the Pacific green shipping hub, including sail training and boat building, are talking to the Minister about import duty and to shipping and trucking companies about reduced rates. The components will fit in 2 containers, cost about $9,000 from door to door. This is less than the cost to get the bits trucked from the build site to a boat ramp, rent while we assemble it, some more to launch it and a lot to get the safety gear required for the trip to Fiji. Plus a considerable payment and copious paperwork to the Aus authorities for registration.
SSTI are supplying a couple of Navy6 electric outboards, at least 5 sq m of solar panels and 4 x Blue Lithium batteries. One motor will go on the tender, not sure about the other, yet. They will be enough for motoring in no wind and for maneuvering in tight spots. A big step up from the cheap second hand outboard I was intending to use.
Dec 1 in Fiji is looking possible, maybe launch by the end of the year, but probably not. Trial routes begin in April.
Fit out decisions are coming up which makes me realise how out of touch I am with developments. The minimum the boat will need is a chart plotter/gps, AIS, tracker, VHF and nav lights. These will either be second hand/cheap if I have to buy them, or top of the range in terms of durability if someone else does. Any suggestions welcome.
Messy couple of weeks, but the bottom sections of the masts are now in and the beams on. The photos do not show the support struts under the beams or the fore and aft struts. The second mast was raised with a sheer legs which is strapped around the hull so it can be used to step/unstep the masts while floating, although as the masts also support the beams, there will need to be a temporary stabiliser strapped to the hull as well.
Not much to show for the last couple of weeks which was spent finishing the bottom mast sections and lifting one of them into place. The bottom sections weigh 78 kgs each, which is not bad, assuming they are strong enough. The lift was pretty simple including raising the gin pole which is the middle section of the telescoping mast. It will be replaced with a much lighter deck mounted A frame for future use. We also built the athwartships struts for the beams and some fittings for the rudder mounts, which raised more conundrums, followed by brainstorming and solutions, a couple of which are quite elegant. Next jobs are to raise both masts, fit the beams and struts, then install the sockets, bulkheads and some local stiffening in the windward hull and close up the foredeck. It’s uni holidays, so we have a couple of volunteers to start work on the wing coverings for the mast, the winch table for the toybox and some cfd analysis of the boat. We also had Chris who swapped 3 days of labour for the chance to discuss some innovative ideas he has for boats and the best way to build them. Lots of fun.
Rob Rassy (who also took the pics)
We continue to be impressed with the size and weirdness of the vessel our labours have produced. It’s probably a form/function thing that gives it the radical business like appearance, but whatever it is, it will attract attention when first sighted. The current focus is on getting the two mast bottom sections built so that we can get things aligned and completed as weproceed with the assembly. Lately Rob seems to be constantly cutting and sanding carbon strips as each day we glue a bundle of pairs together. It’s quite impressive how much carbon is going into the masts, as well as time and effort. After helping Rob with the carbon gluing in the mornings I have been fitting dummy stub masts, cutting “V” gaps in the WW hull and lifting the beams into place. Once the beams were fitted and photos taken I parked my car under one of the beams to show the clearance and prove we are not adverse to the occasional publicity stunt. To get an overall perspective of position and scale one of the rudders was put into place as well. On Friday Rob took a break from his carbon chores to trial fit the deck piece and help me lift the toy box into place. The work has both a fun and daunting aspect to it now, as the more we assemble the more we realize how many extra jobs need to be done.
We are at the stage where many of my “no need to be exact, if it looks right, it probably is”, “we can sort that out later” and “no idea, let’s hope for some inspiration when it is assembled” jobs are coming home to roost.
As well as getting the top and middle sections of the first mast built, we rough assembled the boat for a video presentation next week. This involved Rob R putting the beams, cockpit and toybox in place. It is starting to look like a boat, although not much like anything currently available.
The pultruded strip mast build method is still a WIP. Getting better, but not yet ideal. We are doing more hand laminating and less infusion or vac bagging wet laminates, which adds a couple of kgs, but makes strip alignment much easier. Laying light laminates over a tube is a rare instance where hand laminating can give a better product than infusion as the laminate does not get crinkled. It will be interesting to test them and see what gives. The bottom section is nearly ready to roll, then we need to figure out the best way to add more strips to it.
The cockpit is a sheet of infused fibreglass over a net to reduce the number of strings, keep the crew dry and prevent things falling through it. The plan is 6 strings fore and aft tied to the beams and ~40 athwartships tied onto the cabin side and the toybox. For the video, we set it up with just 2 strings fore and aft. It does not look quite the way I envisaged it, if more strings don’t work, we may need to add some stringers.
The toybox is big. It is going to require some imaginative support once it has anchors, tyres/fenders and other stuff in it. Plus the winch loads and people sitting on it.
Rob R cut the slots in the ww hull decks for the beams and came up with a better way to fair them in. He also made temporary masts to support them on the lee hull. The beams slope to winward and look decidedly weird, but have over a metre clearance on the lee end so should not hit any waves and have plenty of room to get the tender under. Filling in the rest of the space between the beams, the tender and the lee hull is still in the “waiting for inspiration” basket. We also need some more standing room at the masts unless we can make sail raising/lowering/furling controllable from the cockpit. The first 2 are easy enough, furling not so much, especially if the sails are epoxy/fibreglass cloth, which is (maybe was) one of the options to be tested.
Rob R has been wrestling with my incomplete ideas on attaching the rudders to the hulls. The jury is still out on whether we can make them work, but agree it will be the lightest, easiest and cheapest attachment if we can. They also have some potential as lifting foils, with few of the drawbacks of other big multihull solutions, which is food for further thought.
I have built 2 sections of one telescoping mast, extended the table and cut the full length pultrusions for the other section. The build process from flat panels is not entirely satisfactory, to the point that I was thinking about building a mould. Parts of the problem are bonding the strips to a layer of glass, bending the result into a tube and then infusing the outside. Fortunately the pultrusions are not affected by any stuff ups in these processes, but there is a bit of repairing to do on the pieces so far. The next piece is the bottom, which is highest loaded and contains most carbon. I’ll try hand laminating the glass on the pre glued extrusions, see how it goes.
Once the bottom masts are built, we can install them (easy) and fit the beams (not so much, maybe). Probably not going to happen this week as my car needs some tlc after hitting a ditch hard enough to punch a hole in the tyre so I am taking Monday off and Tuesday we have a dry run of a video of the project.
Rob Rassy: A major milestone was passed this week with the deck fitting and bonding to the LH mid section. Once the mast mounts are done the hull can be moved outside and the beams fitted. After a lot of thought and some failed starts Rob has finally come up with a jig and method for setting up the hull/mast
mountings. The masts will not rotate in the hull or beam, which has made the setting up of the masts a lot easier. We actually managed to get one end done on Friday, and should get the other one finished when work starts on Tuesday. Wednesday should see the start of the assembly process. We manage to take some time out to check out a possible launch site, but more on that next posting. There’s also a couple of videos coming to Rumble and Facebook
of Rob showing off his fiber-glassing skills :=)
Rob D: Apart from assembling the last of the major bits and maybe finding the launch site, there were 2 other highlights. One was using the 3D router at the UQ Makerspace. A really cool piece of kit. I was meant to be inducted and shown how to use it by the very patient and knowledgable technician, but we ended up using my job (the mdf rings used to line up the mast bearings) as the demonstration so I did not have to do anything difficult. I also had a look at their sewing machines, which should allow us to sew our own sails. A great place and people which we should be using more than we have been. The other was the purchase of a laser level with which we checked the hull alignment which had been set up pretty much by eye, with Rassy adjusting the bulkheads. According to the laser, the 12m long box is straight and square within a couple of mms, which is good to know. It is also remarkably stiff with 2 stringers per panel and bulkheads every metre/40″. It weighs the best part of 300 kgs so will be a challenge to get off the table and out onto the gravel/mud. A couple of days of fun, followed by the tedium of adjusting the 2 hulls to get them level and parallel, then fitting the beams. I have just bought a sky hook to hopefully make this tolerable.
Yesterday I tried a 4 kw EClass Outboards https://eclassoutboards.com.au electric motor on my 3m/10 hp alloy dinghy with a grubby bottom. It performed the same as the 6 hp petrol outboard I usually use and was lot easier to use. No priming, pulling or stalling. Both engines almost get the boat planing with me sitting in the middle. Then we tried the 6 kw which was more powerful, as expected, but with nothing to compare it to, there is not much to say. Battery use for both was low given most of the testing was WOT.
The following day tried the 12 kw on a 5m/15′ inflatable. Serious grunt! If you weren’t holding on, the acceleration would throw you. The performance dropped significantly as the inflatable leaked which may have been comparable with the drag of the cargo proa. Battery usage was high after a couple of WOT runs.
These outboards are standard ICE frames and drive trains with the petrol part removed and a 96V motor installed. This is probably the best way to remove 2 strokes from remote Pacific communities and may also be a good solution for the cargo ferry, although there are some politics which need sorting out first. The main takeaways are the lack of mess, ease of use and the need for a lot of batteries or solar panels if the boat is going to operate under power for any length of time, which the cargo proa hopefully won’t.
2 weeks ago: A 4 day week on my own. Not much to show, but the tender bridgedeck is painted and the bottoms have 2 coats of copper powder in epoxy on them. Looks a lot nicer and the copper/epoxy was much easier to apply than either the System Three product (very thick) and Coppercoat (very thin). The 2 x 12m lee hull mid section sides are complete and the big infusions are now finished. Definitely a milestone. We tried some different layouts, using spiral around the edges of the infusion to help with resin flow. Some unexpected results, but it worked better than rope as it did not fill up with resin. After a bit of a shake to remove any big lumps of cured resin, the spiral can be used again. Once we attach the sides and install the mast steps, for which we need to build a couple of short mast sections and make them round, the table will be available for the mast sections.
Last week, from Rassy:
After a long week of lifting, shifting, sliding and fitting the side and
deck pieces, the bottom and sides of LW hull mid section were bonded together on Friday afternoon. A lot of care was taken to get the sides perpendicular to the bottom. Trimming the bulkheads and cutting in stringer gaps was the big job and as was expected it took more than one go. In the end the result was pretty good considering the table surface we are working on is far from perfect. Next week we are expecting to complete the hull build by getting the bulkheads coved and glassed to the sides, and the deck bonded on.
Rob has been putting a lot of thought and experimentation into
how to fit the mast bearings, which will be the next job on the list.
We also had an interesting interlude during the week when Alison gave us a guided tour of the property to check out possible launch sites. There is interesting history all about us here, and it’s a little sad to see all the relics and deteriorating buildings of a bygone era. end quote.
We are not allowed to launch directly into the river, so we are contemplating using a creek on the site. There are some interesting challenges, among them the narrowness, twists and turns, an old weir which needs removing and barely enough space at the mouth to assemble the boat. We will be checking it out at high and low tides this week to see if the effort involved outweighs the bureaucracy and expense of trucking it to a site further down the river and assembling it there. Both Rassy and I see the creek launch as a fun challenge, so there will need to be some compelling reasons to hire a truck.
A couple of short weeks has slowed progress on the boat. The top and bottom sections of the middle 12m of the lee hull and the 13 bulkheads to go in it have been infused. Not without some dramas, but nothing we couldn’t fix, even if it meant removing a bag, doing some table work and replacing the bag. Frustrating when you realize it has to be done, gratifying when you turn the pump on afterwards and see the pressure drop. 12m/40′ long x 900mm/36″ wide and 10 layers of 400 gsm/12 oz was a bit of a challenge for our pumps, but doing it in stages made (most of) it easy. Bulkheads go in when we are back in the shed, followed by the sides (2 more 12m lengths) and that is the end of the big structural infusions. Then we level up a bit of space outside, move the hull out and put the beams in so we can finish all the jobs that couldn’t be done until we knew where everything went. While we wait for resin to cure, or when it rains, we start on the rigs. Telescoping wings require a lot of thought about what to do when. At the moment, the order is the top (in one piece), middle and bottom tubes in 2 halves, neither of which can be joined until the bearings and controls are fitted. Once this is done, the bottom wing section is attached, followed by the middle and top, each one using the previous one as a mould. Then repeat for the second rig.
Rob R has made the rudder sleeves. Once he adds the tow, we can see if the proposed mounting and steering works. They will be the simplest rudders since steering paddles if they do.
I put some more shelves in the windward hull to stiffen it up and provide some space for stuff. Used offcuts of f/glass which is of marginal stiffness for a shelf, but has stiffened the hull panel noticably.
We finished the main part of the beams. Some things we will do differently next time, but they appear to be pretty good. Carbon pultrusions are definitely the easy way to build them. The struts will be built and attached to them as part of the assembly.
From Rassy: Uni has commenced and the shed has fallen quiet – Sorta! – That is apart from Rob and I pushing to get the beams completed ASAP. Some of the volunteers have dropped in for a few hours here and there over the last fortnight but mostly it’s just been the two of us. With plenty of shed space and not many distractions, work is getting done, just not on as many jobs as before. On Friday with the help of one of our competent volunteers we completed the last of the beam infusions. Next week should see construction of the beams done and dusted, and the hull insertion boxes fitted. Rob is already thinking and talking about the LW hull mid section build which apart from the masts and rig is the last major piece of the cargo proa puzzle.
Not much big picture stuff happening but plenty of testing and working on the unfinished loose ends. Rob R took the photos and videos, and wrote the following:We’ve been breaking a lot of things lately and I don’t mean the vac pumpsthough the casualty rate there is getting pretty high. The breakages are the result of testing, which was totally planned to happen. On Monday the 18th we retested the original truss sample after adding a vertical support to stiffen the end to make it more realistic to the actual beam situation. The result was a broken web member which had only distorted badly in the firsttest. With that little diversion out of the way we continued working on allthe other projects Rob has on the go. I set about finishing the build on the new designed to fail, scaled test beam. It was due to be tested on Thursday and needed to be post cured prior to testing, so the pressure was on. The beam assembly proved quite easy and was completed with time to spare.Meanwhile things were not going so well on the infusion front, a hull sidelayup got ruined (edit: it will be used for bulkheads, so not a complete disaster) when the pump stopped working after every one had gone home. Also Rob was unable to get a vacuum on the stub mast layup so it had to be pulled apart and the mould recoated with resin. (edit: an opportunity to simplify the construction) On a more positive note I have started on the mould we will possibly be using to build the actual beam. It will be used to make a test piece first for practice and toiron out any bugs with the infusion process. Thursdays test went to plan and has given us the confidence in the engineering calculations to commence the actual beam build. The engineers have given us some material dimensions as well as designdimensions and a load of 200kg as the point of failure. Well! we must have done the build properly and the calculations are correct, because that’s almost the exact load that it broke at. A fluke! I think not! Martin seemed very happy with the result, commenting that we could have a lot more confidence in the numbers now. As the 200kg load was applied and the severe distortion set in clicking and cracking sounds could be heard as individual fibres failed loading the remaining ones more and more till the trickle became an avalanche and the point of catastrophic failure was reached creating a loud crack and the sudden dropping of the load.
To be honest the beam tested wasn’t exactly built to the plan as we couldn’t stop ourselves from trying new ideas and making improvements. As can be seen in the photos the top web was replaced with a single piece layup, saving a lot of time, effort and it appeared weight as well. We concluded the top would be in tension for the test so no cross reinforcing was included. We are calling this part of the beam “The walkway” and if it ends up being part of the build it will have cross strengthening where the side web meets the top members. There will be no diagonals as they will be replaced by the walkway. When the load was removed from the broken test beam it straightened up and was able to lift the 20 kg. load tray proving the top and web were still intact and only the lower member had broken.
I have since repaired the damage with the intention of testing the beam upside down to see how the walkway and beam behave under negative loads. The pictures tell the story, the load was 1/3rd of the right way up.
Only 2.5 days this week due to a branch falling on the power lines behind the sheep shed. The joys of a farm build site.
Big news is that Rob R donated a fridge and microwave! Cold drinks make a huge difference when it is 35C and high humidity. He also bought in a box of delicious home grown grapes, most of which I devoured on the drive home. Too much sugar, my brain was still whirring (in circles, unfortunately) at 2 am.
We got the sides on one 6m end of the lee hull. Several lessons learnt, but it all ended well. Male and female joins on flat panels work well. Right angles are easy. The volunteers got the 2nd deck/bottom infused, looks good apart from a kink where the mould frame moved due to too small a bag. A pretty easy fix, but probably not worth the effort. They also prepped the 3rd piece for infusion. Bulkheads are next. I am making these by adding stiffening (the eps from Bunnings, $Aus50 for 30mm x 2.4 x 1.2m/1.25″ x 8′ x 4′) to one of the side panels which is of dubious quality. It was a great infusion, but a cold night. The next morning, to ensure it had cured enough to demould I heated it without vacuum. The resin softened and air got in. Patience, grasshopper! Square section hulls are so easy to make, it is a pity they look so ordinary. 800 x 800/32″ x 32″ looks small on 24m/80′ long drawings, but the 6m/20′ piece is quite large. Certainly large enough to get inside to install the bulkheads, which will make it easier. The first truss we built is a 2D piece of beam size. Rob R adjusted the test jig to take it and magnify the weight by 2.5. Loaded it up and at 500 kgs/1,100 lbs, the diagonals buckled, but due to the shape of the sample, didn’t break. Fascinating. We will beef up the diagonals and try again. Rob R has also made the bottom piece of the ‘light, easily broken’ sample beam. Diagonals and testing next week, followed by some table repairs (grinding off resin which did not go where it should during infusions) and full size beams which will be a change from making flat panels. We are still having discussions about how to build the beams, so it’s probable that they will be different.
Another busy week, the students are now good enough that we can use some more volunteers after Xmas when the next shipment of materials arrives.
The photos show:
The 3d printed mould for the rudder leading edge. This will be built in short sections which are sacrificial. Damage one section and it is easily replaced. The rudders should kick up before damaging the actual join.
The bridgedeck panel with holes drilled for the strings that will support it. The aim is the benefits of a tramp and a solid deck: impermeable to water upwards and dropped items downwards without the weight, cost, tension and build drawbacks. Of interest in the unrolled panel is the pink stain. Each time we infuse, I wonder where the first drop of resin to enter the laminate ends up. We added red dye to the first mix to see. It spreads out from the resin inlet, indicating that the first area to cure is that closest to the resin inlet, but excluding the spiral hose resin feed line. This implies that resin added towards the cure time will flow to the dry laminate, not get stopped by cured resin, which is great. Seems obvious now, but didn’t before.
Coreless bulkheads. Bit more work and a little heavier than say 600 gsm either side of 20mm foam, but a lot stiffer and cheaper. The next ones will have half the laminate, and flanges on all sides for easy fitting in the lee hull.
Cork cored step. I had a sample of cork which we infused to see how it went. Soaked up a lot of resin, but looks nice clear finished. The only non work boat part of the fit out until someone scratches it or drips paint on it. Also the only wood in the boat so far.
Lee hull bow panels: The volunteers arrive at 10 am, remove yesterday’s panel, have an hour for lunch and lay up today’s panel, which we infuse at 4 pm, go home at 5.30. Panels are 5.6m/19′ x 0.8m/32″, 8 layers thick, plus female joins on both sides. The surfaces are paint ready, no one needs gloves or suits, and assuming 1:2 resin:cloth, the waste is about 150 gsm/0.5oz per sq. If care is taken, the tacky tape and the plastic mould release sheet can be reused, despite me ‘knowing’ it was not possible and advising against it. The record so far is 3 infusions on the same tacky tape and plastic, and a large mouthful of humble pie for me.
Ring frame edges: Ring frames are usually cored with a back filled edge and a minimum of 150mm/6″ wide. We have halved this and put a rounded, solid tow edge on a non cored laminate. The result is a very stiff, strong frame that takes up less room. We will be exploring the limits to this when we add some new shelves and frames to the galley and nav areas on the ww hull.
Access into the hull was not easy, so I lowered the top step. Much easier to get in and out, but a couple of day’s work which may be unnecessary when we see how the deck and hatch work.
Half stub mast mould with pultruded carbon strips. Bit of a learning curve which will come in handy for the masts.
Toy box bulkheads. The toybox has been much more work than I anticipated and I am still not sure it will be stiff/strong enough. Easy enough to add more laminate, but we are also looking at more radical solutions, similar to the bridge deck support. Assembly will be a lot of fun/brainstorming.
Toy box hinges: The edge stiffening tubes are used as hinge pins for the toy box covers. Takes longer, costs nothing and requires no metal or fastenings. Should be nearly indestructible.
WW hull floor stringers: These will be included in the infusion in future. Possibly with non structural foam, but more likely hollow.
Xmas party: Highlight of the week, put on by marvellous Martin, the UQ prof who made the build possible. We spent the morning tidying the shed, finding lost tools and throwing out stuff that ‘might come in handy, sometime’ and the afternoon eating pizzas and talking.
December 2020 #1
Time flies when you are having fun. Which I most certainly am. Got the toybox assembled, the ring frames in it and Yvon and Dong laid up the lid for infusing. Learnt some catch pot tricks and how to make a too small vac bag bigger. Surprisingly (to me), this was a success. Prepared the bulkhead infusion. Be interesting to see how/if these work. Turned the tender over to work on the bottom.
Rob R got the first rudder ready to join, Nakul CNC cut the frames for the stub mast mould and Sylvia 3d printed some sheaves for the model beam diagonal construction.
Teguh set up and infused a 30mm sq x 300mm long sample containing 250 pieces of carbon tow. This is the likely laminate for the beam if carbon is used. One end worked, the other was dry in the middle. We will have another shot this week, with a different arrangement of fibres. He also built some of the tubes for stiffening the toybox edges and acting as hinge pins for the lid. I spent most of it organising/running around not doing much, but spent the quiet time (6.30-8 am) before the troops arrived getting most of one hull of the tender ready for applying the copper/epoxy antifoul. This is definitely an early morning job as we are getting 30C+ days with hotter to come. Decided to keep the ww hull in the shed for a while to avoid anyone getting heatstroke. I also glued a stringer in the ww hull bottom to see how many would be needed to stiffen it up. Not as many as I thought and it is far easier and more pleasant than adding a floor to a round bilge hull. Also designed the steps, which will add more stiffening.
This week; Rob R made an anchor roller for the tender and a f’glass anchor cleat from a test piece offcut, then a neat mould for shelf edges which will jazz up the ww hull interior. I played with edging the ring frames with glass tow then Roan and Sylvia did it better. Put in some offcut windsurfer masts as handholds near the hatch. We joined the toy box. It looks bigger than I thought (8.5m/28′ x 1m/40″ x 500mm/20″), room for 4 friendly double beds, which increases our visitor potential significantly! I showed Nakul and Teguh how to cove and left them to it. Neater than me. My management skills are still not wonderful, but it is great to be able to stand back and see what is happening and come up with improvements, which does not always happen when I am immersed in doing the job. The first ring frame took me 30 minutes to install. The last one 2 minutes. Nakul cnc cut the rudder mould supports at the UQ Maker Space (a magnificent set up with a large range of technicians, tools and equipment that the students can use to build things) and attended the latest round of testing. The results show the ultimate compression load of the specimens and the area under the curves indicates their stiffness. The samples are short so that they fail in compression rather than buckling. The civil engineers finally impacted a concrete beam with no fibreglass on it. Smashed it, concrete all over the place. The glass makes a huge difference. They are now finished and we can move the ww hull outside, turn the tender over to complete and epoxy/copper the bottom and set up individual projects inside. Joining the rudder halves, infusing tow under tension, a model beam that will break in our test jig, stub masts, tube manufacturing and infusing the toybox lid, test bulkheads and the cockpit floor.
An interesting week. Finished attaching the topsides and deck to the ww hull. The structure is starting to stiffen up nicely, but some of the panels will need stringers added. Experimented with recycled glass chips from Rob R’s swimming pool filter as non slip. Applied them to a piece of fibreglass and wiped my size 11’s on them each time I passed. No noticeable damage so we will use it on the tender when we can figure out a reliable application method. The grip is excellent, even when wet, but falling on it will probably draw blood. see pic The areas are reasonably small so this should not be a problem. We are running out of materials to finish tabbing the ww hull and fine tune the truss beam samples, so started on the toybox. Volunteers prepped and infused the bottom on Wednesday/Thursday, and we’re almost ready to infuse the sides on Monday. The bottom looks good, (see pic) we are experimenting with some stringer options on the rest of it. Interesting to compare it with the tender panels we started with. The higher ambient temperature, Rassy scales, leak/bat detector, gauge, catch pot, unlimited amounts of reusable tacky tape and experience with the set up result in a more relaxed approach and accurate result. I am placing an order, so anyone who wants materials from China at half or less the price from Aus, should let me know this week.We added composite ends to the first full size truss sample so we could test it and Rob R adjusted the holder to suit. We made and split a 50mm dia glass tow sample to assess the straightness of the fibre and toughness. The tow alignment was not perfect, but it took a lot of work with a big hammer and chisel to split it. see picRob R built a neat composite fitting for the tender anchor, including fibreglass roller axles. The simple first one did not allow the anchor to sit flush. I had a fascinating conversation with a group which has developed a solar panel that produces hydrogen. Not ready for production yet, but they may supply us with some normal panels. We’re also having a conversation about a Pacific shipping line using cargo proas. Rob R and I spent a day at Uni watching some compression tests on truss members we made. They are stronger and have higher fibre resin ratios than expected but lower stiffness, not sure why. Means the beams may bend, but are unlikely to break. We are looking at options including deeper beams, using carbon in the horizontals and better process control. Also had a look around the labs and some interesting projects including sonic testing of composites, producing carbon/carbon laminates with exceptional properties including heat resistance better than steel and a scram jet test tunnel activated by compressed air blowing a 150mm dia hole in a sheet of 3mm thick steel. Highlight was the Maker Space workshop for student use including a dozen 3d printers, lathes, water, laser and router cutters, milling machines, a robot laminator and a bunch of friendly helpful technicians to help and advise. If there is a heaven, I expect it will look something like this. ;-). I am working on getting access. Thanks Martin and John for organising the visit.The full size truss beam laminate range is narrowing down. Looks like it is going to be smaller than originally expected. We are also reassessing the full size build method so we can infuse as much of it as possible and not have contact with wet resin. Not quite there yet, but each iteration is less messy than the one before it. PhD students exploded some fibreglass wrapped concrete rods in the shed. 16 ton end load, and a 4 kg steel projectile fired into it at 80 kph/50 mph. A loud bang, but surprisingly little damage. On one test, the projectile was ~20mm/0.75′ off centre. The impact sheered the 6 x 8mm/0.3″ bolts holding it together. Fortunately, we evacuate the shed for the firing. The little boy in me is waiting for the non wrapped concrete tubes to be impacted. Should be concrete all over the place. 😉
Rob R says it better than I can: The second beam test again surprised us when we were still unable to break it. This time it was supporting in excess of 500Kg before the load tray started to bottom on the runners supporting the test bed. The test more or less started after we had stacked on the 274Kg achieved the previous test and checked the deflection compared to the last test. It was just a bit less than the first test so the new top web was a bit stronger and a bit neater. Both Rob and I were gaining confidence in the little beams structuralintegrity and were guessing 400Kg before failure and thinking 500Kg would be a magic unobtainable number. With the extreme load came extreme bending with 200mm of deflection proving the forgiving nature of composite materials.Having proven the material strength the design will now be tweaked for more rigidity. So more testing to come. Meanwhile work is continuing on the tender and windward hull while I have started on an internal model truss for the leeward hull, which of course we will be testing. Mostly just Rob and I working this week as it is exam time for the student volunteers. Rob has been going from job to job on the WW hull all the while trying to work out the best assembly procedure. A similar thing is also happening with the truss development as we try to come up with a plan for the actual truss beam build. Meanwhile the truss model experimentation continues with the building of a one fifth scale truss to go between the masts in the leeward hull. The truss building ideas continue to change and evolve leaving behind some cool ideas that seemed like winners at the time only to be replaced by more practical, efficient and less sexy concepts. I’ve lost count of how many tow wet out methods have been tested, with the best wet out so far being done by hand. Needless to say that won’t bepractical for a full sized truss where the tow numbers will be in thehundreds, instead of the 30 or 50 we have been using for the test beams. Amy and Teguh spent a day on the boat, graduated from cutting fibreglass to laminating it. Quick learners. Roan built a fibreglass axle for the anchor roller and installed it in the tender. Unfortunately, the cat sat on his 3d printer so the Opti rig is on hold for the moment. The solar panels for the tender moved several steps closer, and we have started talking with the Power and Drive people at UQ about motors and installation.
Day 57, 58, 59, 60
Another short week. I spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday tidying up loose ends, decanting resin (not unpleasant, sitting in the sun contemplating progress in the late afternoon) and tedious boat building (filleting, tabbing, grinding, filling, sanding) installing a couple more ring frames and a gunwhale on the windward hull, building wing battens and an hour a day getting the tender ready to paint. Assembling the ww hull is going to require some thought as we need to keep access easy and everything supported.
Amy, Teguh, Nakul and Sai got the ww hull cabin roof ready to infuse, Roan finished the Opti size wing rig battens and mast (2 tops of windsurfer masts) and is making the first sail panel this weekend.
The tedium ended when Rob R appeared Friday morning with the test rig for the 1/5th model beam which he had spent 2 days building from the scrap metal in the first photo. We spent the day setting it up and could not resist testing it. The rig worked perfectly.
This beam is a test of 3 build techniques (one excellent, one that can be streamlined and one that ‘needs more work’) and one of several possible truss layouts. Trusses have been around for hundreds of years, so you would think the optimum design would be established by now. Apparently not, and nor are the stresses when it is subject to bending in 2 directions and twisting. Something called static indetermination. The same applies to compression and buckling loads on covered unidirectional fibreglass rods. There is some theoretical work, but not many practical examples. Testing for new data is much more interesting than testing to establish fudge factors between known theory and practice.
The laminate on this beam is a mix of what we had available and what we thought would work. The joins are all experiments to check out their potential. Some are good, some not so much. The next one, and the scale model of the lee hull, will be built differently, take a lot less time with more control and reliability.
Estimates of breaking load varied from 100-200 kgs, so we were pretty chuffed when it got to 274 kgs and we ran out of pavers to use as weights. Someone commented that as it hadn’t broken, we were none the wiser. I replied that I was pretty happy it had got to 275 and would rather be happy than wise! Thanks Yvon and Dong for measuring and recording, Roan and Rob R for the photos and making sure it all went according to plan.
Demoulded the 2nd beam web, looks good. Rob R added the side webs to the test beam, will add the top web and we’ll test it in house this week.
I cut and shut one of the topsides panels (simpler than expected), bonded a couple of ring frames in the hull, glassed the tender bows and trowelled on some bog to make it a bit more presentable.
The sample test rod exceeded the 1 tonne limit (surprise to the technicians, not to us) on the test machine, they will test it on the 5 tonne machine this week.
A bit of a summary so far:
In 56 days we have built moulds for and infused 4 x 12m/40′ (2 more next week), 6 x 9m/30′ and 6 x 4m/13′ hull/deck panels, 4 by 3m/10′ rudder halves and many samples and test pieces for various items. We have 3 vacuum pumps, sometimes all of them are on at once. I work 10-12 hours per day (a fair bit of it looking, thinking and drinking tea), Rob R 8 hours and the volunteers about 20 hours a week. We have tried a bunch of new things, including flax instead of f’glass and stringers instead of foam (hopeless and great, respectively), sundry panel joins, minimising consumables and recycling/reusing those we do use. Generating about a household bin of rubbish per week. So far, a couple of minor repairs, but no throw away panels and mostly perfect laminates with half the resin and none of the suiting up, gloves, mess, fairing and waste needed for hand laminating. So far I have spent $AUS19,000 on materials, consumables and the mould table for the 8.4m/28′ tender, rudders, windward hull and beams. If the tests work out, the lee hull, beams and rig materials will cost about the same amount but there will be a fair bit left over from what I have. We are using my crappy hardware store power tools and a couple of medium size vac pumps borrowed from UQ.
In case anyone is interested, I will be placing another order from China in a couple of weeks. The bigger the order, the lower the pro rata costs (handling, freight, customs, etc), so anyone who wants materials at about half the Aus costs, please let me know.
Diagonals almost as good as they looked, got the 2nd set laid up. Infused the topsides (perfectly) once Brad had found all the leaks.
I used to test for vacuum by listening for air and pulling up the plastic folds. Worked OK, but I was never sure what was going on. The bat detector, catch pot (not required, but good to know it was there), multiple pumps and no core allow for a much more relaxed approach to the layout, bag sealing and infusion.
Joined the 2 half hulls. Not quite as unenjoyable (applying wet resin on my hands and knees) as I thought it would be thanks to Teguh doing all the running around for me.
Lunch time was the usual chatting about boats and building them, when Rob R suggested a really clever way to build the lee hull so that it could be easily transported. Model starts next week to see what is involved.
Finished the 2nd topsides, Roan learnt the joys of filleting and coving on the tender, then we made the first diagonals for the beam model. Looks good. I made a couple of catch pots for the Uni vac pumps.
Late start, but Nakul and Teguh turned up to help Roan, Rob R and I. Rob R is in the last stages of a cunning truss construction method, Roan did some stringer installation and glassing on the tender and Teguh and Nakul demoulded the 2nd hull half section and started laying up the 2nd topsides.
The hull half is excellent, the greater angles on the stringers are a little less stiff (I think, it is difficult to tell until they are assembled) but certainly good enough. Then all of them helped me get the halves ready for joining.
There were a few lessons learnt, one of which is not to cut tacky tape with a rotary cutter. The stuff melts, sticks to and burns skin. Organising is hard work, but the things that get done with no physical effort from me makes it well worth while. Helped enormously by all of them being sensible and competent.