Monday, October 25, 2010

Ski Boat in Final Stages

The Ski Boat rebuild is going smoothly. The expanding foam and the final round of materials (epoxy and more glass) are on their way from US Composites. Last week I finished the layups on the main stringers using the vacuum press. The starboard one went great but the port one got a little wrinkled on the top and will need to be scraped down and smoothed out. I installed the secondary stringers that section off the side bilge space for the exhaust pipes and I got the new ventilation hoses installed. The old vent hoses were flexible plastic with a spiral wire in them. The new ones are PVC gutter pipe shaped with a heat gun and glued together and sealed with 5200.

The 2 main jobs left are to pour the new expanding flotation foam into the various under floor compartments and then lay down the new floor which will be 2 layers of 18oz woven roving smoothed out with filler and a layer of 3/4 oz glass. This time next week I should be pouring foam and the floor should go in pretty quickly. I hope to have this project wrapped up by next Friday.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Vacuum Pump Project Update

It's alive. The vacuum pump is fully operational and boy does it suck. Sorry I couldn't help it. I got all the parts in the mail last week and started assembling right away. I originally planned a configuration similar to this one but once the parts were here and I started playing with them I ended up with what I think is a little more user friendly setup with things facing you and the valves right up front.

It took about 4 hours to build the tanks, put the box together and fit all the pieces together and then about an hour to reseal some of the threads with more pipe tape before it would hold a steady vacuum. With the valves closed, she will suck about 22.5 inHg and only drop about an inch overnight. I kind of wish the pump was a little stronger but no issues so far. After a few layups on the ski-boat I brought it home. What is the first thing I did with it? Vacuum bag my leg of course.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A day for Flying

Last Sunday I had a great opportunity to meet up with an old sailing club friend from school who was in the area and currently in training at Navigation training school in the Air Force base out of florida. He offered to take me up for for a flight at the Hendersonville Airport just 45 min. from Asheville. Naturally I said "HELL YES" and I showed up there about a half hour before he did.

The plane they use down there is the Diamond DA20. It's a small 2 seater and a new one goes for a cool $169,000. The motorcycle of the air I heard one guy at the field say. The plane was fuel'd up and ready to go for us and after doing the preflight another friend and I waited on the ground while Andrew knocked out 3 takeoffs and landings just to warm up and get back up to date with his hours before taking anyone else up. Here is a video of us taking her up. One of the coolest things about the plane is the wonderfully clear and unobstructed canopy bubble.

After my flight, they went up for another flight to do some more navigational type stuff and I wandered over to the Western North Carolina Air Museum which was sitting right next to the strip. What luck! I talked with a guy named Jim Hammond who has been working there a guide and he showed me all the neat and unique planes they had in their hangar. From experimental replicas to aerobatic iniquities to models! If your ever near Hendersonville, the WNC Air Museum is worth a stop. Plus it's free!
Here are some other shots from the day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another project?

Well it's more of a present to me and I realized it would help with my current repair job so I decided to just go ahead and build my own vacuum press system. It's pretty simple and I am following some simple and detailed plans from for the layout. I'll post some pictures when I get a little farther along (I'm still collecting the parts). I got some of the important bits from and I am waiting on a pump that I bought off ebay. Here is the basic layout.
I had thought about just going with a cheap-o direct pump to bag bang on bang off design but with just a little more care you get some really nice features. This design incorporates some relatively inexpensive parts to accomplish automatic vacuum regulation using an adjustable vacuum sensor and relieves the strain on the pump at startup with a sub-reservoir and a "mac-valve" (basically solenoid valve) after startup to suck air from the main reservoir and vacuum bag. Although Joe Woodworker's "vacuum press" is aimed at woodworkers for laminating veneers and such, I'll be using it mainly for bagged composite projects. I'm interested in trying my hand at a technique called resin infusion. Oh and did I mention, I've ALWAYS wanted one of these.

Friday, October 08, 2010

New battery box

I spent most of the day (last thursday) building the new battery box for the bow. The new box is made of fiberglass molded over a plastic battery box I found in the garage which was previously used as a liner for the original battery box. I laid it up on a flat surface to give it a flange which will be glued under the floor panel to give the battery cover a lip to sit on so the panel sits flush with the floor.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

New Stringers for an old boat

Two short days of work and the new main and secondary stringers are cut to shape and fitted in the hull. Also cut out are the plywood floor panel that supports the drivers seat and the bilge bulkhead. Today, I finally got that ski pole out with a lot of cursing and just a little help from a sledge hammer and a pry bar. I buttered up the hull for the stringers and got them bedded in some thickened epoxy but ran out of cabosil so i'll have to wait to do the filleting.

Floor panel with bilge bulkhead visible underneath

New stringers and floor panel dry fitted

Main stringer with relief for engine mount and limber hole