Friday, September 29, 2006

Bikes & Commuters

If I may change the subject for a moment....
A recent thread in the "Off Topic" section of a paddling forum I often read has gotten me thinking this week about cycle commuting. That thread was full of an awful lot of vitriol, especially from the anti-cyclists (not what I anticipated on a paddling forum). I think one of the cyclist advocates was writing at least a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it certainly wasn't taken that way by some of the other posters. Anyways, a couple of very interesting links to other blogs were posted and I thought I would share them here (since this website actually sees traffic and is much easier to add it to than my main site).

First was a blog posting by Crazy Biker Chick who wrote an article entitled "Things a non-cyclist might not understand Part I: An open letter to motorists who dislike cyclists." I liked this article thoroughly, it is well written, respectful, and in no way does it chide or goad the motorists she hopes to get the point across to. What she says reflects my feelings on the subject quite closely, though there was one point she made that I'm not sure I can agree with (not sure I entirely disagree with it either). She addressed the issue in her most recent post. For more on my feelings on the matter, you can see the rants section of my other web page.

Another blog posting that was linked to was regarding the pro-cycle commuting movement, Critical Mass, and was written by the Accordian Guy in his article Critical Massholes (or: Why I No Longer Ride with Critical Mass). While I appreciate the message they attempt to convey, I've never quite understood how obstructing other vehicles on the road was the best way to get the message across. Let see, piss off a whole bunch of motorists in an effort to get them to afford us more respect? Apparently I wasn't the only person that this has occurred to as evidenced by the aforementioned article.

Now back to kayaks - I gotta go work on the boat (I think I'll glass the outside seams tonight). Ciao.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back Adder

As of this week I'm back at it, continuing my slow progress on the boat. The other night I sanded the outside seam smooth, taking the edge off a fair bit in a few places where the deck did not quite conform to the hull. This left some bare wood in places and may in the end be visible but I'm not too worried about it. This area will be soon covered in a strip of fiberglass.

Inspired by a photo in Dan Millsip's journal detailing the building of his kayak, I decided to build a device to help me scrape/sand smooth the inside seam in those hard to reach and curved portions of the kayak. Dan credits Daren Neufeld with the pole sanding device.

Here is the problem I'm trying to fix:
In the photo above, the boat is upside down. The tip of the bow curves down and away from the camera (and the guy trying to work in the confined space). The seams are to the sides of the photo. Below are a couple of the closeups of the bumps and glass fibers which stick up (cropped from the right side of the above photo). The whole thing is a big mess of epoxy and fiberglass. I stopped by the local Co-Op hardware store on my way home to look for the highly & repeatedly recommended sureform rasp. Not finding one, I picked up some other rasp thing, designed for drywall but the package says it can be used for autobody work. It was cheap so I figured what the hell. I also picked up a couple of small hinges. Here is the first version of my inside seam tool, Inside Seam Tool, MKI:

I fitted the rasp blade to a block of wood which was then attached via a small hinge to a 3 foot length of scrap spruce. This first version did not work very well for 2 reasons - the sole was too flat, and the rasp did not cut the fully cured epoxy very well. I fully expected both of these to be a problem so there were no suprises there. I attempted to curve the rasp but was not very successful and quickly tossed the rasp aside. It was a good thing I sharpened my plane blade last night because I put it to good use by planing down the sole of my block of wood to form a nicely curved surface. While I was at it, I planed down the square corners of the handle to give a handle that I can comfortably grip without fear of gaining a mitt full of splinters (working with a plane and a piece of wood is so much nicer than scraping cured epoxy & fiberglass). I then stapled a piece of 80 grit automotive sandpaper (from a Princess Auto variety pack) to the bottom and voila, Inside Seam Tool, MKII:

Thankfully, the rounded sanding version works much better. It's still gonna be a lot of work and rather slow, reaching with one arm in through the hatch with your head crammed in there too so you can see what you're doing, but my wife has indicated that she'd like to help with the kayak so maybe I can get her to do it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Some Good Ideas from Dan Millsip

Dan Millsip has recently completed building a Pygmy Coho and has posted a gallery and journal of the build at West Coast Paddler at the above link. Dan has some pretty good ideas which I would like to keep in mind in order to finish off this kayak, or maybe for the next one.
* The hinged pole sander for the inside seam (maybe I'll work on that tonight and finally get those jagged edges cleaned up).
* The laminate trimmer slot cutting template - The way I did it by drilling and filing has been less than perfect and now some of those slots are partially filled with epoxy and I have to figure out how to clean them up (maybe I'll grind a file down to the correct thickness).
* Making finger pulls from dowel.
* Making bulkhead templates.

p.s. After about 2 1/2 months away from the kayak I'm getting back at it!