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Ballast Tank Blues

Steve W

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I think the pictures help a lot. I'm not building this boat, but these would really help if I was.


If it did not interfere with assembly, I would be tempted to try to glass the ballast tank panels before assembly, while I could lay them flat. Unless you are doing these all at once, with no breaks, the glassed panels will cure before you can get back to do the taped over fillets, so likely no chemical bond anyway. Or leave a bit of a margin at any junction of panels where your fillets are to go if you want the chemical bond.


Also, it appears there are holes cut in some of these panels to allow the ballast water to flow in and out? If so, these would have to be sealed. In that case, a trick I sometimes use is to cut the hole twice. First time is with a hole saw that is about 1/2" larger diameter than I want to end up with....say 4 1/2". Then take the scrap from inside the hole saw and cut it again.......this time using the hole diameter I want to end up with.....say 4". So I"m then left with the flat panel, with oversized hole.....and the scrap from the hole saw. Lay the panel flat, put the scrap back in the hole and a gap of about 1/4"+ appears between the edge of the panel hole and the scrap. Center the scrap in the hole, then nail it into place so it doesn't move around and then pour thickened epoxy into the gap. It will seal the edge of the panel and create a hard epoxy bushing between the panel and scrap.  When it's cured, cut the smaller diameter 4" hole out one more time. You will be left with a sealed up hole with a 1/4" hard epoxy rim. If you don't like the sharp edge, run a 1/8" round over bit over it. And again, all this can be done before it is ever installed.......while it is laying flat.

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Interesting discussion. Actually the Port side was previously known as Larboard, short for loading board, as different from Starboard, or steering board, but this is too easily confused with Starboard. Due to the steering board being outboard of the boat's quarter, larger boats had to come alongside a Port on the left (larboard side) to avoid damaging the steering outrigger. Naval types usually refer to the "roof" above our heads as the "deckhead". Talking about "heads", they were located in the bows of sailing ships, one each side, always use the lee side head. Its all traditions from the mists of maritime.

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I've got all the tanks in the water area glassed and I've continued to coat the whole mess hoping to achieve a good bond on the coats. One thing I noticed is after you filet the joints, the whole unit freezes to shape and you can work without the soles in. I kept putting them back temporarily and eventually realized it was rock solid and stopped. I tried to use gravity to my advantage (see picture) as much as possible. I'll be glad to be past this and for those of you who did this while in the boat I salute you. I know I have to filet and tape this in later and I'm not looking forward to that. 


One little hiccup. I have all the ballast tanks glassed, but last night I was cleaning everything up and noticed a spot along a stringer where the fiberglass puled away during the cure. The lighting isn't the best working in there, and somehow I missed it. I'm thinking the best solution is to wait a day or two after coating and cut this section out, grind/bevel the edges and just patch it.



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GREAT job! You've overcome your first hurdle. After you finish installing the module, everything else will seem easy.


Those little air bubbles will "surprise" us at times. Yes, cut 'er out. You can either patch it, or just resin coat that spot without the glass.


Installing it isn't too big a deal---well, at least if you are double jointed, are a skinny teen, and can scrunch down into difficult areas. (Only joking) Just fillet your corners, let it cure, scuff, lay your glass tape in place dry, and wetout each section before moving to the next. When you get tired, take a break. Nothin' to it! The good news is that gravity is in your favor now.

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Hey Chick, I built the centerboard and rudder and I have the hull all ready to unfold. I've been hurdling my arse off with very little time to work! 


Thanks for the advice! I can't wait to get together and buy you all a beverage of your choice (mine will be a single malt) while we share stories.

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Make mine good ol' southern sweet tea---or Mountain Dew if I'm feelin' frisky. I like those little quick jobs like centerboard and rudder---especially after that nasty module!


Did you get the preshaped centerboard and lead tip from B&B, or did you do it "on your own"?


Unfolding the hull is a great joy. VIOLA---POOF instant boat! My wife helped and it went quickly and easily. Be sure to check out Alan's video on the process.


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I've built a few stitch boats, 12-16 footers, for paddling and sailing. I'm not going to build anymore, but I do think it's a neat process.

My favorite part is not the instant, "boat", moment, but rather the moment you realize your floppy assemblage of boat shaped boards has become something lighter and stiffer than it should be...

And then comes all the sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding and sanding.

I try to only sand to paint, now.

Man, you are going to be so rightfully proud of this boat. Keep it up.

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