Saturday, December 2, 2017

Drascombe Dabber and Lugger Floorboards

We have had to make floor boards, aka deck boards, aka cockpit sole for our Lugger and Dabber. Our boats have slatted boards, meaning there is a 1/4 inch gap between each plank. We prefer that design so that air can circulate through the bilge and we can see water if we spring a leak. They are also pretty easy to remove.

Here is the solid floor that the Dabber came with.

For the Dabber we picked up some cumaru (Peruvian teak) for the floor, we found teak at the local builder's supply, sold as deck boards. On our Lugger we used cypress that came from the local cypress mill. You could also use 1x6 pressure treated pine, or possibly cedar or pine fence pickets. Teak is heavy and will not float. Cypress and pine will float, with the pine being the lightest. We chose teak because we will not have to finish it and I like the floor to be heavy and not rattle around. A bonus to the teak "deck board" is that the edge is already radiused, less work for me later. Pressure treated pine "5/4" deck boards are finished as well, like the deck boards in our pictures.

We use 1x6 dimensional boards because they line up pretty well with the width of the Dabber and Lugger cockpit. One "1x6" board gets us a board that is 3/4 inches thick and 5 1/2 inches wide. For the Dabber we needed 3 boards 9 feet long for the middle slats, and 4 more 8 foot boards for the outer slats. There was a moaning chair moment when I realized I needed the longer 9 foot boards for the middle, which required another hour and a half car trip to the big city. Luckily we can fit up to a 10 footer in our van, so no trailer was required.

Got the boards home and laid them out on the deck, which is handy because the deck boards are the same width. For the layout I use a full width board for the outside planks, as the middle board will be ripped lengthwise and cut again to make room for the centerboard trunk.

I used the old floor as a pattern. I flipped the old floor upside down and laid it carefully on the new boards so as not to disturb spacing. It is important to note that the new floor is UPSIDE DOWN as well at this point and we will be making our builder marks and note on the bottom, so don't be shy. I traced the perimeter of the old floor with a sharpie and carefully removed the old floor so as not to disturb board spacing. The next thing to do is take a straight edge and mark perpendicular lines across the board, being careful not to disturb spacing. These marks help you line the boards up at a later stage. I also marked each board's position, Port 1-4 and Starboard 1-4. This picture shows the board layout and the first port side board cut out with a jig saw. See how the boards are reversed? And look at the old floor pattern, see how it lines up with the deck planks underneath?

Ready to cut out the last outer plank. That outside board doesn't use up much of the plank, but we used the offcut to make the floor cleats (small cross boards underneath to hold the floor boards in position). The center plank gets cut to fore and aft length(s) to account for the centreplate trunk, then ripped for width to make fore and aft, port and starboard center boards. The forward center planks also get cut to allow clearance for the centreplate uphaul rigging. Now is the time to round over the cut edges of the boards if desired, I used a 1/8 inch roundover bit on a compact trim router.

Take all your offcut pieces of floor and cut them 1 1/2 inches wide, short pieces can be used on the end and longer pieces in the middle. We used a table saw to rip the boards. Lay the cleats out and mark their position. Now if you're lucky you may have the old boards to reference with the cleats on the bottom. If that is the case you can make a note of cleat spacing and any bevels on the ends of cleats that allow the floor to sit flush. There are bevels and lips around the bilge and centreplate trunk, so the cleats can not run all the way to the edge of the floor boards. If you have the boards you can assemble everything outside of the boat. If you don't have reference boards, you can assemble the boards inside the boat, being careful not to step on and unsupported end of a board. This is where the alignment marks and board numbering come into play, get all the boards aligned in their proper reversed spots before placing the cleats. Take a look at the pictures and put the cleats in approximately the same spots, 3 ahead of the centreplate trunk, 3 aft of the trunk and one abeam. Leave about a one inch gap on the ends of each cleat for clearance. Make sure to support the little end of the outer planks where you can.

I used #10 silicone bronze brass wood screws to attach the cleats, or stainless or coated deck screws, depending on how soon you want to replace them. Or clench nail the boards. The screws should be 1 1/4 inch in length. Laid the boards inside the boat upside down, on opposite side of where they will fit when finished. Set the spacing, then drilled a hole with a Fuller combination pilot hole and countersink bit. For hard woods you have to drill a pilot hole, for PT pine probably not. Then I attached cleats using a Frearson bit to drive the to silicone bronze screws. You can get square drive SB screws or star drive stainless as well.

Cut handles for the floorboards, centered them so the floorboard would be balanced when we have to carry them.

Marked a hole big enough for 4 fingers wearing a glove. Drilled pilot hole for the jigsaw blade.

Cut the hole with a jigsaw.

Made a pattern to send to a friend.

Lugger Differences:

The Lugger floorboards have a few more bevels and floor bearer support cutouts, here is a MKII floorboard.

Plus there are MKI and MKII Luggers, which have different centerplate trunks.

MKI Centreplate trunk has external supports.

MKII centreplate trunk is smooth.

Floor support bevels.

Here is a MKII Lugger floorboard in a MKI Lugger. I like how the MKII outer plank is wider vs narrow, so we adapted and made the inner planks smaller for the new MKI floor. The MKII centreplate trunk is different, so we cut extra boards to fit around the centerboard case supports.

Here is a set of MKI Lugger floorboards I cut out of soft pine from the home improvement store. They cracked immediately, so I would suggest using something that costs a bit more. The MKI boards had the narrow outboard board, I like it to be wider. I cut the new set on the left from cypress, using a MKII floor as a pattern to get the wide outer board.

Traced the pattern with pencil and cut out with a jig saw.

Alternating screw pattern.

Cut narrow boards to fill the MKI centreplate gaps , assembled.

09 Jan 18:

Step by step how to make floorboards. First step, buy a boat with floorboards...

Here is our 1980 Drascombe Lugger ONKAHYE guarding the cypress boards stored below her, we set those boards aside about 4 years ago for her starboard side floorboard. We bought enough boards to make both sides at once but only made the port side. Surprisingly the lumber is still there.

We made a new port side floorboard for the Drascombe Lugger about 4 years ago after someone whose name rhymes with Scott destroyed an aft plank. Actually Capn Scott was kind enough to point out a weak spot in the slowly rotting pine. The new floor was made from cypress.

We use 1x6 planks, which measure out to 3/4 x 5 1/2 inches. We bought 10 feet long boards with the excess being used to make the half planks and cross cleats. Lay them out UPSIDE DOWN and lay the old floor on top to trace the outside edge. We do it like this because later we have to screw on the cleats. We put a fingertip size gap between the boards to allow for air circulation, we wnat any water to flow easily into the bilge and not get trapped against the boards somewhere. The gap also provides a spot to hold, to ease handling during installation and removal.

If you want to lay the planks in the boat to set your plank spacing, draw some perpendicular lines to help line them back up in the boat. Do this BEFORE you pick the planks up to cut them. The planks are upside down so you can work on them, so they will need to be placed on the opposite side of the bilge. We recommend leaving a finger tip size gap around the outer edge of the floorboard, by the side seats, so that the floorboard and cleats will not interfere with where the fiberglass hull liner is bonded to the hull. With that small gap he boards fit loosely but do not slide around. If you want the boards to fit amazingly tight, then you are on your own :)

We use a DeWALT jigsaw to cut the plank edge.

Hold on to the offcuts to make the half planks and cleats. 3 main planks cut out but we still need to cut the little half planks that go ahead of and behind the centreplate* case. *So British, we call it the centrplate a centerboard her in the U.S. of A.

It took 4 1/2 hours to make one side. In the past we have made an entire set in 8 hours, not including the trip to the mill to get the lumber. That time includes the breaks for breakfast, lunch, dinner, goofing off, coffee, more goofing off...

Measured the cleats to find width. This 1985ish floorboard was made old school by Capn Jack, he nailed them together. Several nails came in from the top and were clenched (bent over) to hold the shape. Then he flipped the floorboard and put smaller nails in from below, long enough to go through the cleat but not poke through the top of the floorboard, so they probably measured around 1 1/4 inch.

Set to table saw to 1 3/4 inches for the cleats.

Cut the cleats and small center planks from the offcuts. Use the smaller pieces first to optimize wood usage.

Transfer cleat length and angles to new cleat and also make note any bevels on the outer edges. Those are there to help get a snug fit for the floor, but not too tight.

Cut cleat angle ends and note bevels.

All cleats cut. Note the large bevels cut on the lower outer edges of the aft cleats. The hull tucks up and in there so a little extra clearance is needed.

Trace the half planks.

The inner edge of the inner planks has a bevel to help clear the centerplate case.

The inner edge of the inner planks has a bevel to help clear the centerplate case. Use the half planks to mark where the bevel starts.

Cut the centreplate case clearance bevel with a 45 degree chamfer bit on a DeWALT compact trim router. Only a DeWALT will work...don't try any others...#DeWALT

Centreplate clearance chamfer cut, that helps ease installing and removing the floorboard, no binding.

Ease the edges of the planks with a 1/8th inch roundover bit on a DeWalt compact trim router. Only DeWalt will work...

Coffee time.

We like a finger width gap for air circulation and ease of grabbling the floorboard when taking it in and out.

Drill a pilot hole and countersink with a Fuller combination bit. Attach the cleats with #10 1 1/4 inch silicone bronze screws, Frearson bit.

Here is the screw pattern that we like.

Assembly finito!

Mark finger hole location.

Drill a 1 inch finger hole. Or 1 1//8th inch if you don't have a 1 inch bit. Put a scrap piece of wood underneath to minimize blowout caused by the spade bit.

We sanded with 60 grit so we have a rough surface for traction. We left the sanding dust on there as well for grit. Applied one coat of TotalBoat Gleam Marine Spar Varnish to act as a sealer against grime. Flip the boards over and varnish the bottom, let dry and go sail/row/motor. For maintenance we may switch to teak oil. #totalboat.

It took 4 1/2 hours to make one side. In the past we have made an entire set in 8 hours, not including the trip to the mill to get the lumber. That time includes the breaks for breakfast, lunch, dinner, goofing off, coffee, more goofing off...

Drascombe Lugger MKII Floorboard Replacement
Pettigrews Lugger Floorboard Replacement

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