Fortunately I had great weather for loading, because it took almost 2 hours.
Tuesday, Feb 19, I drove to Turnpoint Designs in Port Townsend, and picked up the SCAMP kit. It is a stack of about a dozen sheets of plywood that have been cut with a laser router into all of the various sheet pieces needed to build the boat.
My van won't quite fit a 4x8 sheet in the back - it hangs out the back about 2 inches. While this is ok for local trips, I didn't want to drive the 4 hours back to Portland with the back door partially open. So, I had arranged with Brandon Davis at Turnpoint to not tab the pieces in the sheets. This allowed me to easily load individual pieces into the van, and then I stacked the scraps on the top.
Fortunately I had great weather for loading, because it took almost 2 hours.
And, the kit parts stacked in the shop.
I decided to build the mast first, rather than near the end for a couple reasons. I couldn't build it with the hull in the shop - not enough room. And given that I haven't built a boat before (but do have some wood working experience), I wanted to start by taking on a project that I could complete in a relatively short amount of time. And I could do this without committing the $ for the kit quite yet.
The wood mast for a SCAMP is 16' long, and uses birds mouth construction, which means it is hollow and built like a long skinny barrel. I found a number of articles on the web which were quite helpful in learning about this technique. And I learned a few things from the attendees of the SCAMP Mast Camp at the NW School of Wooden Boat Building in Port Townsend.
I started by building a test mast - same diameter as the base of the SCAMP mast, but only 2 feet long, and made of scrap doug fir. This gave me a chance to build fixtures, and make mistakes on a throw-away.
Here, a stave is being cut to width.
And, a scarf joint is being cut. Don't really need a scarf joint on a 2' mast, but I wanted to test the process and the table saw jig.
I tried using a scarf jig that uses a router, which I got from the guys at RiversWest Small Craft Center (www.riverswest.org), but found it didn't do any better job than my table saw jig, and was a lot more work and time consuming.
The test mast after glue-up, and marked for planing to 16 sides. One thing I learned was that it is important to get enough thickened epoxy on the birdsmouths - I had a couple on the test mast that seemed a bit starved.
I planed the test mast to 32 sides, and then sanded it on a spar lathe, that I made for this project. This seemed to work well.
So, time to build the real thing I think.
I bought two pieces of sitka spruce at Crosscut Hardwood in Portland - they were 8/4 and just over 12' long, about 8-9" wide, pretty straight, and pretty straight grained - as far as I could tell.
I ran one of the spruce boards through a thickness planer (at the RiversWest shop - I don't have one myself), to give a smooth flat surface to start with. Then, I ripped 6 35mm (or so) pieces. These were later ripped in half to yield 12 16mmx35mm pieces, which were then trimmed to 16x30, the non-tapered stave dimension. These 12 staves were just over 12' long. So, the plan is to cut 4 of them in half to scarf to the remaining 8 to yield 18' staves.
I was somewhat alarmed at the crookedness of some of the resulting staves. When the spruce was ripped to narrower widths, internal stresses were released and boards went opposite directions. But, I could easily clamp the batch of staves together and they would lay flat. So, maybe it will be ok.
Then I reviewed the layout of the scarf joints in the mast, and decided I didn't like it after all. The joints were distributed too closely together, in my opinion. So, I ripped some from the other spruce board (which is to supply the yard and boom), and cut a few more stave-size boards. It was unfortunate that I had to do this, because it was nearly impossible to get exactly the same setup on the saw to get the same width and height as the first batch of staves. Turns out they were close enough, though.
Cutting the birdsmouths. I "just" had room in my shop, and out the door onto the adjoining driveway, for the, now, 17' staves (in fact, I had cut them to that length because that is what would fit during this step).
I built a couple of taper guides from 1/4" birch ply. These were about 15' long, and covered the part of the mast that is tapered, plus a bit. I debated using a batten to draw the tapers on the guides, but ended up drawing straight lines between each plan offset. The guides were used to draw taper lines on each of the staves, which I then roughly trimmed with a jigsaw. Then, 4 staves at a time were clamped between the taper guides, and hand-planed to final width.
OK - now things are starting to get fun, because we can actually try a test assembly. During the build of the test mast, I had made a set of assembly jigs, (which include the taper in the size of the u-shaped opening), which I now set up (using my new laser level - hey, each project is an excuse to buy new tools, right?).
The test assembly went pretty easily - the assembly jigs made all the difference. I figured out the best order to add the staves, and then measured the inside dimensions and cut plugs for the head and the base. The plan is to glue these in during the final assembly.
I was pleased that the somewhat crooked staves, when clamped together into a mast, were nicely straightened by their neighbours' birdsmouth cut, resulting in a straight mast. Whew!
So, I called up my buddy John Bouwsma to help me with the glue-up and real assembly.
The real assembly went pretty easily as well, in fact, I probably could have done it myself. But I really needed help spreading the epoxy.
We spread straight epoxy on three sides of the staves (all but the outside), and then applied thickened epoxy to the birdsmouths. This last step took us about 45 minutes, so I was definitely glad for the help. We used small brushes to spread the goo - perhaps using the pastry bag fillet approach might have taken less time - not sure.
The pix shows the assembled mast after assembly - things were busy enough I forgot to take pictures before this point. I mostly used hose clamps, with a few plastic ties between. It was hard to get much clamping pressure with the ties though.
I then spent a fair amount of time cleaning up squeeze out, and John got bored with that and went home.
After letting the mast sit over a day, we can start making it more round.
I started by going over the glue joints with a scraper to remove as much squeeze-out as I could, to reduce the amount of plane blade sharpening I would need to do.
Marked it for planing to 16 sides by drawing a line down the middle of each stave. We plane off the wood between this line and the edge of the birdsmouth of the adjacent stave - removing the point of the octagon.
16-sided mast, marked for planing down to 32. The idea this time is to plane down the the edges, with the goal to change the lines drawn around the circumference to a series of line segments separated by equal spaces (the part we plane off)
Like so. I then planed to 64 sides, taking a pass down each of the 32 edges. It is hard to see them, so you have to run your fingers down the mast to know where to plane - usually just one pass. I didn't plane the test mast to 64 sides, and it made the sanding step more time consuming.
So, on to sanding. I had made this great sanding aid - a spar lathe - and used it on the test mast. It had worked really well, so I had high hopes of a very quick sanding session. The real mast had two wheel supports - one at the middle, and one near the head.
So, I setup the mast on the lathe, and got started. After one pass down the mast, I realized that the roller blade wheels were hard enough that they were making a circumferential dent. I guess the douglas fir is hard enough, that I didn't see this with the test mast. Gads! So, rather than fiddle with different wheels, I decided to bag the lathe, and proceeded to sand by hand, as I was anxious to get a mast done, and not spend more time fiddling with build fixtures.
Using paper for a belt sander cut in half, I sanded the mast with 80 grit, then 120 grit using the cross-grain method shown in the pix. Then, I finished with 220 grit with the grain.
Took a while, and was fairly tiring. But in a different way than planing to 16 sides was tiring.
The remaining task, for now, was to shape the head. I took a pix of the head of the mast from the Melonseed Skiff, and tried to copy it. I held my random orbital sander in my right hand, and rotated the mast with my left (that lathe would have helped here too) and sanded the shape by eye, using the picture as a guide. I might touch it up a bit later, but I think it turned out pretty good.
I will cut the halyard hole at the head, and apply a finish later. For now, the mast is hanging from the ceiling joists in my shop, waiting for me to build a boat to put under it.
Hmm, when did I first become aware of SCAMP? I guess it was in late 2010 when details were showing up in Small Craft Advisor magazine. The boat seemed intriguing, but I wasn't interested in building a boat, really, and didn't have the time either. Besides, I already have a day sailor that I enjoy quite a bit. So, I don't really need another boat. Don't have the time. OK.
However, the folks at SCA were pretty good at continuing to publish interesting details about SCAMP. Hmm - seems like it has some distinct advantages over my Melonseed Skiff - reefable, can hold more than two people, a dryer boat, a lot more storage space with the potential for overnighting on board, pretty seaworthy - especially for a 12' boat. Hmm. But build a boat - nah! - I don't have the time.
Then 2011 ground on, and I realized that I would be able to retire from my job mid 2012. Well now, what would be some good retirement projects? There is the on-going, multi-year backyard remodel, which looks to have a few more years worth of work left in it. But what of winter projects? Maybe I should reconsider that SCAMP thingy again. About this time, I was also becoming convinced that this boat would be a really good replacement for the Melonseed (my wife has imposed a two boat limit on the driveway, and it is currently full, so replacement it must be). So, lets think about this more seriously.
Then, the 2012 Port Townsend Pocket Yachters Pocket Palooza rolled around, and I got a chance to sit (but not sail, alas) in SCAMP #1. This pretty much clinched it for me, and I started planning how I would be able to build one in my home workshop. Plans were ordered (sail number 124), and come the Fall season (well, actually almost Winter), the shop got a remodel to make room for a SCAMP build. The shop now has room for the hull, my tools and bench, saw, etc, and shares its space with the furnace which makes for 60 degree temps all year long - perfect!
Lets get started...
Craig Bryant. Never built a boat before, so should be interesting.
Dave's (WoodnMetalGuy) SCAMP blog
Brent's Shackleton build blog