Monday, April 6, 2009

A 1:1 Scale Boat Kit

Not all modeling efforts result in tiny replicas of the real thing. It’s possible to transfer your modeling skills to build something a little more substantial. Last year my son developed a real interest in sailing and we decided it might be fun to build a basic boat rather than buy or rent one. After some google searches we settled on a kit from a local manufacturer Chesapeake Light Craft (CLC). CLC gives you the option of either purchasing the plans, purchasing a kit with all the parts pre cut or anywhere in-between. They were also very, very helpful during the build process, so I recommend them highly.

Building the boat was like any model or miniature build. One first reviews the plans, inspects all the parts and remove any flashing / imperfections. The hull planking is assembled using a lap-stitch method. The hull planks overlap like tongue and groove wood flooring and are initially held in place by copper wire loops ever 4 or 5 inches. I think we drilled over 800 wire holes and put in 400‘ish wire loops! We then used epoxy to fill in the seams and bind the boat planks together. Once the initial epoxy seams were dry, we removed the wires and applied more epoxy to fill in the wire holes and “voila” you have a hull.

Then the fun starts - sanding, sanding and more sanding. Two coats of epoxy and six coats of varnish later, she’s ready for the water. If any of you decide to try an build a boat here are some helpful hints:

  1. Don’t sand the epoxy seams too much. When the boat was first put in the water we realized that we had sanded the seams too much as there were lots of micro leaks along the side. There is nothing more depressing than launching a boat and slowly watching her take on water. After that we learned to test launch our boat in the pool.
  2. The build process uses a lot of epoxy to seal the hull - due to the curing time you need to work in small batches and buys lots of surgical gloves. Also, if your head gets itchy while you’re applying epoxy ALWAYS resist the urge to scratch it. I discovered that epoxy covered gloves and head scratching don’t mix unless one wants an excuse to get a buzz cut.
  3. Take your time - boat building and rushing equals waste, frustration and the likelihood you’ll expand your child’s vocabulary in a guttural way - just like with model building. Again, take your time!

It took us about 75 hours to complete our little boat, but it was a blast.

Here are some pictures of the build process:

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