Wednesday, June 21, 2017

St. Jacques Log 21 Jun 17 Mast and Sprit

06 Jun 17:

Went and picked up some 14 foot spruce 2x4s for the mast and sprit. Cut them down so we had 2 pieces, one set to make a 2 1/2 inch blank for the mast and one set to make a 1 3/4 inch blank for the sprit. The mast is 11' 7" and the sprit will be 12'3".

Left them long so we can pick the best section after they are glued up. Fastened them together with Jamestown Distributors TotalBoat THIXO thickened epoxy.

09 Jun 17:

Took the clamps off the spars. Marked the circumference on the end. Cut 45 degree angles on each edge just outside of the mark with the table saw. Now they are 8 sided.

(Edit: Stop. That circle is required 2 1/2 inches. No room to spare. So at this point we needed to cut the corner bevels perfect AND turn the blank exactly from the center in order to maintain that diameter. Stay tuned).

Eight sided the spars. (Edit: We should have marked center before eight siding, it was hard to mark afterwards as our bevels were not all equal. The result was us finding the wrong center for turning the spar and as a result the diameter was less than desired.)

21 Jun 17:

Built a shaping jig for the spars and router sled. Main box was made from 2x6 lumber with 1x6 ends and 1x6 feet. One end can be moved to accommodate different length spars. Drilled a 7/16th inch hole in the spar ends and inserted dowels. We cut the mast side profile on 2 lengths of 1x6 lumber and screwed those to the box, just proud of the box, that is what the router sled will slide along, guiding the router up and down in order to get the desired diameter. There was a little experimentation to see how high to place those taper patterns, too high and the router bit wouldn't cut as deep as needed, too low and the excess wood on the blank would bump against the bottom of the sled. The router sled was made from 2x6 guides and a 1/4 inch plywood base plate. A thicker base plate, maybe 1/2 inch, would have been better as that base plate would deflect down a bit with excess pressure and we had to watch that. The router is a DeWALT compact trim router with a Bosch 3/8 inch flush bit.

In theory we would have been able to set the router to just barely touch a flat on the blank, then turn the blank and get a nice even circle cut evenly all the way around. In practice we found our 8 sided blank was a little lopsided and the dowel hole was a bit off center, so we cut more off of one side than the other. We adjusted by cutting a little deeper on one side, which resulted in a spar diameter around 2 1/4 inches the design 2 1/2 inches. It seems very strong irregardless, and based on our experience that we have carried similar square footage on a Sunfish wooden mast that was 2 inches in diameter, we will give this mast a try and see how it does. This issue became even more evident on the sprit, which we had cut to exactly 1 3/4 inches. Two attempts to cut an exact round spar out of the blank were unsuccessful. What we will do to fix that is be more precise on eight siding the spar and start with a bigger blank.

Note how the inner 1x6 guide tapers down at the far end to allow a deeper cut. Both ends are tapered per design.

We could hold the sled in one spot and turn the blank by hand to cut a groove, or we also held the spar still and moved the sled to cut one aris. Just depended on what mood we were in. We checked the diameter with calipers. In some areas the rotating blade of the router would catch small bits of the blank and start it turning like a lathe. That would have been great to do the whole spar that way but the blank was out of round and the jig bounced around.

Nice views of the tapered ends and profile templates.

This idea came from a youtube video on how to turn a cylinder from the Woodworkers Guild of America. We scaled it up but did not make the bottom of the box solid, that way sawdust could fall to the deck and we swept it up later. We also used dowels in the ends vs the hardware that they used. After trying a few blanks, we might go get the hardware to hold the ends similar to what they used.

Once the mast was rough cut we took the belt sander with 40 grit and lightly ran it perpendicular to the mast. The mast would rotate, fast if we let it, but we could control the speed by slowing the mast with a gloved hand or by varying the angle and pressure that we held the sander. Parallel to the mast = no rotation. 90 degrees to the mast, lots of rotation. We also sanded some areas along the grain and rotated the mast a few degrees at a time to shape areas around the tapers. Final sanding was by hand with 120 grit.

Mast was sealed with Jamestown Distributors TotalBoat Wood Sealer. Then lightly sanded with 120 grit. Then we applied TotalBoat Gleam Marine Varnish Satin. Repeat sanding and varnish times 2. The wood sealer is great, it makes a nice base for the varnish and it does not seem like we have to build as many coats of varnish. We prefer the satin finish over high gloss. We also like the varnish kit that Jamestown Distributors provides with the quart kit, it includes 2 paint pots, 2 stir sticks, 2 foam brushes, 2 paint strainers, and a pair of latex gloves FREE.

This is the mast after we sanded the wood sealer, ready for the first coat of varnish. Wiped down before varnish was applied. A light sanding between coats creates a better surface tooth for the varnish to grip and it is easy to see where the shiny varnish is covering the scuffed areas.

3rd coat of varnish.

Log of St. Jacques.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alcort Inc Rudder Releasing Mechanism Patent

In 1954 Alcort, Inc patented the rudder releasing mechanism used on their different models of Sailfish and Sunfish sailboats. The bronze assembly allowed the rudder to automatically swing up if an obstruction was struck and then be easily restored to operating position. It was also designed to be "simple in construction, inexpensive to manufacture, easy to install and manipulate, compact, ornamental in appearance, and very efficient and durable in use."

From the patent: "The invention provides the following advantages: '
1. It affords a simple means of lowering the rudder into operating position from a boat after launching it from a beach, or in shallow water.
2. It permits a small craft to be driven or sailed upon a beach without injury, as the rudder will disengage itself automatically upon contact with the beach or submerged obstruction.
3. The rudder can be easily restored to operating position manually by swinging it downwardly to cause the lower end of the vertical hinge plate to engage against the rear beveled surface of the latch plate, without replacement of a shear pin or any other part.
4. The release mechanism may be adjusted to release the rudder more or less readily, as conditions demand, by varying the compression of the leaf spring, by means of the thumb nut.
5.The rudder may be locked positively in its operating down position, if desired, merely by tightening the thumb nut as far as it will go.
6.The rudder may be used to steer a boat even when it is in the unlatched or raised position in shallow water, and will afford a fair amount of maneuverability under such conditions, as contrasted to conventional detachable rudders, which had to be fully attached in order to operate."

This is a Standard Sailfish named Winnie, with the first generation rudder blade known as the "elephant ear." The 1940s and 50s wooden Standard Sailfish and Super Sailfish, along with the early wooden Sunfish, would have come with this tiny rudder. Note the short transom, the early wooden boats and fiberglass Super Sailfish MKII rudder systems have a short transom, so a 4 inch carriage bolt was used vs the 7 inch bolt used on the 1960s fiberglass Sunfish.

Here we are installing the rudder deck plate on our 1953 Sunfish Zip. Note that there are screw eyes molded into the bronze plate, so that the aft end of plate can be screwed into the top of the transom. Also note that the carriage bolt goes through the transom, not outside like the fiberglass Sunfish.

Here is Zip sporting an upgraded Generation 2 rudder, also know as the spoon tip. That blade provides much more helm control and is essential if you choose to use a newer design race cut sail on the older boat. The rudder pin has a keeper chain, normally secured to the hull. Since the boat is usually stored outside and it gets trailered around, there is more opportunity to lose that pin, held on only by its 60 year old chain. We changed this up later and secured the keeper to the rudder, which is stored indoors and rides in the car. Note the short transom again.

Ready for launch, just push the rudder down to latch it. Adjust tension as desired.

Rudder down and latched on the 1953 Alcort Sunfish Zip. Skipper was Master and Commander that day. And as always, how about that coaming?!

This is the transom of a fiberglass Sunfish. That transom is taller than the transom on the Sailfish series of boats and the wooden Sunfish. The carriage bolt measures just over 7 inches compared to the 4 inch carriage bolt on the earlier boats. The carriage bolt has also been moved to outside the transom, and a notch has been molded into the transom to provide clearance for the bolt.

This is the top deck plate for the fiberglass Sunfish, note how the rudder pin has the keeper chain eyelet screwed to the deck. We bet that there are a lot of Sunfish rudder pins strewn along the side of America's highways. And also there are no screw eye holes on the deck plate because the end of the plate extends past the transom. The last bit of trivia is that the patent number 2,675,775 is cast into the plate, many folks mistake that for a serial number. Oh, the last last bit of trivia, some early fiberglass Sunfish deck plates DO have a serial number embossed on the side of the plate, usually a low 4 digit number.

Alexander Bryan and Cortlandt Heyniger, Waterbury, Conn., assignors to Alcort, Inc., Water bury, Conn., a corporation of Connecticut
Application December 9, 1952, Serial No. 324,896
Patent Granted April 20, 1954

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spritsail Sail Kit from Sailrite for St Jacques 16 Jun 17

07 May 17:

We got our tanbark spritsail kit from Sailrite, rolled out the panels, (Edit: Now is a good time to sew on reef point reinforcement patches, BEFORE panels go together), seamed them with double back tape and sewed the panel seams together on the Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1. Made a few adjustments to the machine first, lots of pressure foot tension is required.

Skipper knocked me over to get to the sail.

Here is everything that came with the kit, plus we ordered #4 and #1 grommet tools.

The vertical panels for the spritsail come on a roll. Save the tube, you might use it later to roll up parts of the sail when sewing.

This is the double sided tape used to baste the panels together. It is awesome. We pressed one side down, then peeled off the white protective layer a little at a time when we basted the panels together.

Here are the panels laid out, ready to baste. STOP. Now is the time to sew on the reef point reinforcement patches, that way you only one panel has to be manipulated through the machine vs the whole sail.

The instructions told us what stitch width and length we needed. The sail can also be sewn with a straight switch machine.

Sewed the first panel with the Sailrite LSZ-1 machine.

Skipper sewed her first sail panel!

Sail panels all sewn.

Skipper has been sewing for many years, and she has a Masters Degree in Costume design. So she knows her way around a sewing machine and it is a treat to watch her manipulate fabric.

Everything came out great, corner and reef point reinforcements next, then grommets.

08 Jun 17:

Sewed on some of the reinforcing patches for the tack, reef tack and peak of the sprit sail. They are 4 layers of different size material, smallest patch goes on first. We taped them all together then taped them on the sail on the marked locations.

The reef point patches are placed differently than the tack and clew patches. They also may need to be trimmed. So take a minute to review the instructions before sewing. We didn't but they still look nice and will work as needed.

Reinforcement patches were 4 layers thick and they are installed with the smallest patch on the bottom of the stack. We used a chalk pencil to mark their location on the top side of the biggest patch so we knew where to sew. On white fabric you may be able to see the layers through the fabric. If not use a pencil to mark where to sew.

More patches. This sail is four sided so there are extra corners and edges.

Reef patches need to be trimmed and placed lower than tack and clew patches.

Sewing a sail takes a lot of presser foot tension.

Here are the settings we used for stitch width and length.

16 Jun 17:

Cut a 3 inch square pattern for the reef point patches.

Cut the 3 inch square reef point patches, 2 per reef point.

Marked location for reef point patches with a chalk pencil.

Wound another bobbin.

Basted the reef point patches with double sided tape.

Sewed on the reef point patches. Would have been easier to do before the panels were sewn together. A LOT easier!

Basted the double hem with double sided tape. First fold is to the hem line, pull the protective cover off of the tape. Press the fabric down. Then baste again and fold over a second time to cover the edges of the reinforcing patches.

Baste, fold, crease, pull and press a second time


Sewed the hem about 1/8 inch from the inner edge.

Sewed the prefolded 2 inch luff reinforcing tape.

Creased, basted and sewed the 3 inch luff tape.

Last stitch on the sail.

Time for grommets! Placed the male grommet and marked the inner circle with chalk. These are #4 grommets.

Poked a starter hole with the Skipper's pokey thing.

Cut the hole. Go slow and check the fit frequently. The grommet should fit snug.

Placed the male grommet half in the base.

Placed the female half of the grommet over the material and bottom grommet.

Placed the anvil.

Pounded the grommet until we couldn't see between the grommet and the fabric. Usually 4-5 hits.

Check the inner edge of the grommet to see if the lip of the male grommet rolled over the edge of the female grommet.

Reef point grommets are #1 size.

The final grommet, also know as "The Wine Grommet. Notice I found a bigger maul.

Our first sail!!

Click here for the full build log.