Lead Pour and Centerboard Progress

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It has been a few weeks since I last brought you up to date on Journey’s progress.  This has actually been a productive past few weeks. I sanded the keel and routed out the front edges of the centerboard trunk since they will be visible inside the cabin. Then I routed the bottom of the keel to reduce drag in the water.

After a final sanding, the keel was ready for the lead to be melted and poured into the forward and aft compartments.

Here is a picture of the keel all ready for the lead pour.

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The lead came from tire weights secured from a local tire company. I used a turkey fryer that has been in  my garage forever, a cast iron frying pan purchased from a yard sale,  a spatula borrowed from my wife (Do you think she will notice if I cleaned it up really good and put it back?) Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Hey, at least now I know what to get her for her birthday!

I also used heavy leather gloves, long sleeves, long pants, eye protection and my cartridge respirator.

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So with all of that, one would think that nothing could possible go wrong…. Well, one would be wrong! LOL

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It’s a little hard to see, but on the first pour, I figured out very quickly that heavy leather gloves does not a hot pad make. So I burned my finger, and spilled a bit of the precious lead all over the place.

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The good news is that, my finger is healing nicely and didn’t delay the rest of the pour and it’s amazing how easily you can just scape up the spilled lead and re-melt it. However, before I melted the second pouring, I went back to my wife’s kitchen where the spatula came from and borrowed one of her pot holders, which worked just great… right up to the point… that it caught on fire. I guess I can add a pot holder to her birthday list 🙂

Here is a picture of the finished bow section

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The aft section all finished!

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A picture of a 2014 penny (for luck) all ready to seal up inside the keel forever!

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Keel all sealed up ready for the keelson.

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I also glued the two halves of the centerboard together.

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Here is a picture of the 3/8″ wide and 3/4″ deep rabbit cut into the centerboard. I used a dado blade on my table saw which turned out very nicely. I decided to cut the dado before pouring the lead into the centerboard because I figured it would be much easier to handle on the table saw (which it was) The groove is there to pour large quantities of epoxy into. This will provide a great deal of protection for the exposed centerboard.

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Here is a picture of the keelson epoxied together laying next to the keel.

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Soooo I just keep taking things one step at a time. Next step is to build the craddle for the keel and see if I can start making Journey look like a boat.

Keel Assembly

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2014-06-28 20.47.56

Can you believe it? I finally got back to working on “Journey!” I have to admit that the idea of assembling the keel has been weighing on me. I have read many of the other blogs where mistakes have been made during assembly and too much blocking was used or not enough and the keel ended up a bit crooked or there were large gaps in the joints. So, with all of that in mind, and after trial fitting everything together several times, I took a deep breath, mixed up a batch of epoxy and started assembling.

It actually went together predictably and just as I had practiced. One thing that I did a little differently than the manual recommended was that I epoxied the port – aft keel side last. It just seemed that as I practiced assembly, that there was more room for error epoxying the aft section last instead of earlier as the manual recommended. It seemed to work well.

I also discovered that I prefer using a squeegee over a foam roller or brush when applying epoxy. The epoxy seemed to go on easier, and quicker, and there didn’t appear to be as much waste. Of course,  I am still pretty new to all of this and I might find that my opinions will change over time and with experience.

Anyway, the good news is that I am back on track! A little sanding… a little routing… and then I get to smelt lead! That actually sounds like fun… of course with all of the meth labs around here, I expect to receive a visit from our local law enforcement, after a concerned neighbor looks out and wonders what’s going on in my back yard.

I can see the headlines now… “Local Pastor Arrested for… well… we don’t know what he was doing… but it looked illegal!” LOL

I’ll keep you posted!


It Won’t Float!

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2014-06-10 15.11.56

As you might be able to tell from the long time between  blog posts, my work on “Journey” came to a sudden halt around the first of April.

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When we first found out that our daughter and her husband were expecting a baby, my wife told her that we would buy the crib for our new grandson.  “BUY a crib?” I said! “Why, I will do you one better! I will BUILD a crib for that new grandson of mine!” So, with that great pronouncement, my boat factory (garage) turned abruptly into a crib factory. The only problem was that I knew as much about building a crib as I did about building a sail boat.

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I have always heard that the difficulty of a shop project can often be measured by how many trips to the hardware store it took you to complete it….. Well, if that is the measure then I am really worried about how many trips “Journey” is going to take. I stopped counting trips to the hardware store somewhere in early May and I was already passed 15. And, when I started adding up the dollar signs….. Well, I quite counting around $600.00. (Yes I know that you can buy really nice new cribs for $250.00.) But those cribs weren’t built with love by Grandpa!!!  (that’s what I keep telling myself) 🙂

So now the crib is finally done… Did I mention that my daughter is in labor as I write this?  I really am a procrastinator. I once mentioned to a friend that I work best when I am under pressure… He looked at me… shook his head and said… “Jim, you ONLY work when you are under pressure!” (Perhaps he was right!)

But…  did I tell you that the crib is actually a 3 in 1 bed? It will also convert into a toddler bed and then ultimately into a full sized bed. (I really am an overachiever, aren’t I)


I don’t have much to finish on the other two parts so if all goes well, within the week, it’s back to boat building!

(“Journey” says… Yea right) …….  She can be so jealous and definitely temperamental!

Blood, Sweat and Progress

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I am beginning to wonder if I am on pace to be the longest Pocketship build of all time. Oh well, time will tell.

I was able to make a little progress in spite of the “Never Ending Winter”

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I was able to finish the “Centerboard Trunk!” As the manual says… “Congratulations, you have made a box! It won’t float yet.”

It actually turned out very nice. So far so good.

I also finished shaping the noseblock for “Journey.” Again, quoting the manual… The noseblock “will plow through thousands of miles of dense water in Pocketship’s lifetime.” So with that thought in mind, I took my time and tried to get it right.

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I placed the noseblock on the kitchen table (along with my wife’s ceramic work) I’m afraid that she has me beat in the area of color and artistic flair, but I bet that my noseblock will do a better job of cutting through the water than her ladybugs! (No Karen, I’m not going to test your ladybugs out in the water!!)

I did have a slight mishap with the sander…

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So I have shed blood on this project, I have certainly been sweating… even in the winter. No tears so far… (I’m sure it is only a matter of time) and I have made a little progress. I’m not slow… I’m  just pacing myself 🙂


A Lot Done… But Nothing Accomplished!

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I just haven’t had much of a chance to get out in the garage and work on “Journey.” It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to, but life sure has had a way of getting my attention here lately.

Since my last post I spent a week in New York. While I certainly had a great time, I wasn’t exactly making headway on my Pocketship.

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Then came the season of Advent and Christmas. Once again, while very rewarding, it wasn’t spending time out in the garage.

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After Christmas, I spent a week with some of my favorite people in one of my favorite places in the world… Gatlinburg TN. No complaints or excuses there!

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Then I spent a week in the hospital 😦       Unfortunately, I would have rather been anywhere else in the world than there.

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And throughout these past several weeks, we have been inundated with the coldest weather that I can ever remember!

Cold Weather

I was able to accomplish something on a couple of the days that it decided to stay above freezing… I built a rolling rack to hold all of the wood for “Journey.”  At least now everything is organized, neat and up off the garage floor.

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Here is a before and after picture.


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By the way… Here is an example of how not to cut a piece of plywood on your folding table 😦 Don’t tell my wife… it was her table!!

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Now all I need is for the weather to cooperate and it’s back to work.

Blessings 🙂

Finally Getting Started Building

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Well, I haven’t been exactly doing nothing, but it is amazing how life and ministry can affect my free time. Between funerals of dear friends and preparations for “Charge Conference” (our annual church meeting) I have been keeping pretty busy.

I have also been working on some of the building preparations in the garage. It isn’t going to be as easy as I thought to work on “Journey” and also get my wife’s car in the garage every night. I am afraid that depending on what I am doing, I may have to leave the car out once in a while. (don’t tell her, she might not notice if I play my cards right) 🙂

The first dilemma I needed to overcome was how to keep the garage a little warmer while I am out there working. I decided on this Optimus Quartz Tower Electric Space Heater from Lowes. So far I am not sure that it is making that much difference. The thermometer on the wall seems to inch up gradually when it is on, But to be honest, when you get an old fat boy like me working out in the garage, I seem to stay pretty warm without much difficulty.

space heater

Pocketship begins by constructing the keel and the first step is to build the trunk which will hold the centerboard.

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So you begin by fiberglassing (spreading epoxy over fiberglass cloth) the inside of the trunk

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Here is my first attempt ever at fiberglassing, Hopefully I will become a little more proficient as the project goes along. There is A LOT of fiberglassing to do. (It does make the wood look beautiful)

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You might notice the contraption that I built to hold the lights. First of all, the lights aren’t there because I am almost blind and I  need them to see what I am doing. (although there is some truth in that) They are there to warm the epoxy so that it will harden properly. I got the idea from the CLC (Chesapeake Light Craft) website on how to heat your work area and epoxy in cold weather.

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I have the second coat on now and I plan to do the third before I go to bed tonight.

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I’m on step one of…. well a gozillion!!!!! But at least I have officially started!


Journey to Pick Up “Journey”

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2013-11-11 10.02.39

Now that I have returned from Annapolis with “Journey” tucked safely in the bed of my truck, I’m not sure whether I feel more excited or apprehensive about the build.

Let me back up here for a moment and start from the beginning. I just spent three awesome days with my son and I can’t remember the last time that we did that, so without anything else, that made the last three days perfect.

The 1500 mile round trip went flawlessly! My first concern was whether or not the kit would fit in the back of my Chevy Colorado, and if it did fit, would the weight put too much of a strain on the truck, especially going back over the mountains of West Virginia.

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Well, I really need to practice what I preach, Matthew 6:34 says: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In other words, I really need to stop worrying so much and just enjoy the journey!

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So let me tell you about my experience at Chesapeake Light Craft… I have one word for those guys…WOW. I have never been treated so well and so courteously in my life. Their patience and knowledge with my incessant questions was second to none. As an example, I was looking at the Japanese saws and my son asked the question (of me) why would that saw be any better than the other saws I already have, I didn’t get the chance to answer, one of the guys stepped in and gave Ben (and me) a 3 minute explanation of what made that saw special. I immediately put the saw in the basket of accessories to take home with me. (That guy was good!!!)

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I also got to see Pocketship (the original) in person. I remember having two thoughts as I came around the corner and saw her for the first time… the first was like falling in love all over again. She is even more beautiful in person than she was in the countless pictures and videos that I have seen. And the second thought was… Oh My Goodness, what I have I gotten myself into!!! She looked sooo much bigger in person and my fear factor of being able to complete the build went up exponentially.  (I know… I need to refer back to the not worrying about tomorrow thing)

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Another privilege that I had was the opportunity to personally meet John Harris. Let me say that he took time from his busy schedule to come out and meet with us, answer a ton of questions and then personally take us  out to get a close up look at Pocketship. Not once did I feel rushed, and I just wanted to say a public thank-you to John for the kindness he extended to a couple of lubbers from the far off land of Indiana.

John Harris

After leaving Chesapeake Light Craft, we took a brief tour of Annapolis, and then drove over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. (We certainly weren’t in Indiana anymore) The only disappointment we experienced was trying to eat at Hemingway’s Restaurant right on the Chesapeake bay. Unfortunately, they were closed Monday’s until Spring. What a bummer!

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We said our goodbys to Maryland, and headed for home. Monday night we had our fist snow of the year (don’t I remember something about “when the gales of November came early?) I hope that isn’t an omen! (I know, I know don’t worry about tomorrow!!)

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 After dropping Ben off in Seymour, IN I came home, rested for awhile, unloaded the truck (which was quite an adventure) sorted through the kit and went to bed early. The journey really has begun!

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