RowCruiser Build Log from a Newbie

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Re: RowCruiser Build Log from a Newbie

Post by Editors »

Great updates, Dave! —Eds
The smaller the boat the bigger the adventure.
davea
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Re: RowCruiser Build Log from a Newbie

Post by davea »

Thanks all who have posted encouragement! yep it's been fun so far and I've learned tons. Definitely more work than I was envisioning, but I'm really eager to get it done and out on the water! Sooooon my pretty
Jamie Kennedy
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Re: RowCruiser Build Log from a Newbie

Post by Jamie Kennedy »

davea wrote:Thanks all who have posted encouragement! yep it's been fun so far and I've learned tons. Definitely more work than I was envisioning, but I'm really eager to get it done and out on the water! Sooooon my pretty
Speaking of tons, I heard there is also a Colin Archer RowCruiser design available, but it is considerably more difficult to row. ;-)

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davea
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The Companionway

Post by davea »

Well I never did finish this thread off, but the boat did get finished back in July 2015. But as snow is now on the ground and I'm already daydreaming about next Summer's trips, now is as good a time as any to come back to this...

I guess where I left off was talking about my hatch idea. It never really panned out like I hoped, but I'll time-travel forward to show the finished product so you get the idea of what I was thinking about:

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Fully-closed. The latches on the vertical part are slam-to-shut, fully stainless steel and gasketed/waterproof. The latches can be opened from the inside and can also be locked/unlocked from the inside.

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Partially open. The vertical 'door' is connected to the main lid with some torque hinges which are strong enough to hold the door in any position even when the boat is slamming around in waves, but not so strong that the door flexes when you want to move it. Having it open outwards from the sleep cabin means it acts as a bit of a rain shade so you can have ventilation if it's stormy. The tubular-style gasket helps seal everything else up when closed. What you can't see is another gasket on the inside of the curved top piece that completes the seal along the top when closed. It's not completely waterproof at the corners though and there would be some water leakage during a capsize.

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Door retracted. The door slides on two metal rods within grooves in the lid so that it slides in and up out of the way. This allows the door to be open without interfering with rowing, and also allows the entire lid to be moved forward towards the bow for easy access, without the lid digging into the deck, etc.

The next step that never got done was to have the lid on stainless steel drawer sliders so that it could be moved forward and remain attached. For now the entire lid is just held down with 3 buckles and secured with a lanyard, and to gain entry you can reach in and undo the buckles and just move the lid aside. The neoprene gasket was the wrong call as it was too firm and doesn't compress enough to have everything watertight. I need to swap it out for the tubular style. The other option was to get some offset cabinet hinges so that the whole lid could flip up, but this might cause problems in wind.

The overall logic behind the design was:
  • Ventilation during rain
  • Easy access to cabin contents during the day while rowing
  • Movable lid to gain entry for sleeping
  • Waterproof enough to survive capsizes without flooding
  • Latchable from inside and outside -- if you capsize while sleeping you need to be able to get out ASAP
I think the concept is still salvageable but it needs some refinement as the rails that allowed the door to slide up and under the lid tended to bind a lot. Need some sort of proper roller bearings.

With that in mind, here's the making-of...

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Here's the dry-fit of the surround pieces. They are 3/4" sitka spruce, mitered at the corners, and with cutouts along the edges so that they overlap the deck by about 1/8".

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The top was then cut off each side and the rear piece was attached to create the lid.

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Lid now has decking attached and cut to size. If you look closely you can see how the surround pieces are notched to accept the deck. This also allowed the pieces to stay in the right position during epoxying.

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Next step was to create these ridiculous adapter pieces to add strength to the opening and adapt the existing trapezoidal cutout to the square one I wanted for the door

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Expoying in the adapter pieces. Repeat after me... you can never have too many clamps... you can never have too many clamps...

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Building the door. Adding thickness for the latches to mount to, adding some rigidity and the piece on the left is where the torque hinges attach to.

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Door fit in place. Not very pretty, but it does the job.

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Thankfully the other side looks prettier. I decided to paint over this eventually though. The piece of wood sticking out the top is the piece that has 2 SS rods across it, which stick into slots under the lid. It's attached to the rest of the door with the hold-open torque hinges.

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Here are the slots that the rails fit in, salvaged from some pieces from the kit I wasn't going to use. Hard to visualize, but the door starts low (so that it can clear the lip at the rear of the lid) then as you shove it forwards it will end up tucking in under the lid. These pieces are aligned front-back under the lid, one side against the very rear edge.

Sadly I never got a photo of the door sliding mechanism in action or the completed underside of the lid, so maybe not all of the above makes sense. I think replacing the SS rods with a simple screw with a nylon ferrule would make a decent enough roller bearing to reduce the friction and binding of the rods within the slots, which was this design's downfall. I may try that yet and update with more photos.
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Paint!

Post by davea »

Next step was painting the hull. I was quite excited about this step, and anxious to see how all the imperfections would show up.

I did 2 coats of PreKote in white to start things off:

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I was a bit concerned at first because the roller finish gave quite a noticeable orange-peel texture which was difficult to sand smooth due to the sanding pads getting gummed up quite quickly. Maybe it would have been better if I'd waited a week to sand instead of just a couple days. After much googling I decided the microtexture was not actually that much of a concern for hydrodynamics and efficiency and just plodded along.

For the final hull color I planned on varnishing the okume decks which I knew would be a rich reddish brown color so wanted something with a bit more warmth than pure white, which would contrast way too much. I bought 3 cans of interlux TopKote paints: white, grey, and orange. I did a lot of experimentation with mixing those in different ratios:

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I ended up on a warm medium-grey. It's best seen in this shot while I was still applying it to the brilliant white primer coat:

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However, once the entire hull is done, it doesn't look nearly as dark as you'll see in later images. I'm super happy with how it came out and was thankful I took the time to experiment.

Next up was to prep the rowing compartment a bit, giving a final sanding and smoothing, and adding the rails for the sliding seat mechanism:

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I could then apply 2 coats of the PreKote:

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The next big project was the rub rails. To go along with the chunky sitka spruce around the hatch, I decided I wanted a chunkier profile to the edge of the boat. This ended up being time, effort, and money well spent for a few reasons I'll go into later. These were cut from a 12' length of clear sitka spruce. I'm in love with that wood now:

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One very tricky part was that I was doing this alone, so some creative clamping was needed while I went around and pre-drilled and counter-sunk something like 110 holes. I used #10 1" screws, stainless to be safe even though they should never see water. I did the final attachment with thickened epoxy and screwed everything in. I then rounded over both corners with a 1/4" bit, cut plugs for all 110 holes from pieces of scrap sitka spruce (held in only by friction) and then epoxied over the rails with a couple layers applied by foam brush, then sanded smooth. Lots of work.

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But the result is great, it's chunky and strong enough you can grab on to the side of the boat or even carry it around with, and provides some more meat to attach handles, pulleys, etc to. I also quite like the look. Here's a closeup of the final result after the decks had been varnished:

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Here's a detail of where the rub rails 'overlap' along with the happy coincidence of being a place where the oar handles can wedge in a bit. I have 2 bungees that wrap around the shafts to keep tension on them so they're held in this position for when I'm at rest or at a dock:

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Another bonus of the rub rails was that they allowed me to create a rear carry handle and have it blend in a lot better than without them. Here's the incredibly complex carry handle piece, formed with a lot of work with a spindle sander:

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Here it is dry-fit:

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It's attached through the transom with some bolts that were first epoxied into the holes in the handle, then threaded through and affixed in place with nuts and also epoxied on the other side:

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The above is also the only photo I have showing the extra ribs I put in under the decks -- I had mistakenly bought 3mm ply for the decks instead of 4mm so I definitely needed more support. They are made from cheap spruce and I think are 3/4 x 1". At the very back there is just one in the middle as you can see, and then one on either side of the rear hatch, and two more that run from the front of the companionway/hatch to the bow. There were all simply cut to length and epoxied and filleted into place with the boat upside down, after the deck was laid. With these in place the deck does not deform at all and is more than strong enough to sit on, whereas before just leaning on it slightly would cause the deck to flex from convex to concave.
davea
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Home Stretch

Post by davea »

Now for the finishing touches.

This oscillating/belt sander combo got a lot of use and came in very handy forming these two pieces:

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Gluing up the half-lap joint:

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Close-up of the joint:

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UH OH. Something went wrong. I guess I'm not very good at tracing. The oar stays were going to be 1/2" too far towards the bow. Thankfully I had just enough room to fix it by moving the entire assembly towards the stern by 1/2" inch (this photo shows it already moved into the proper position, but with the cutouts showing the proper angulation):

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These rather complex pieces allow mounting the rigger to the inwhales: (I may be using all of those terms incorrectly)

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All the rowing gear is installed! Note that I have gone with a even more dark and rich color for the rowing compartment area paint, rather than just using the hull color. I like it.

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I bought a bungee kit meant for kayaks from a marine store. These are screwed into the ribs I mentioned earlier under the deck which I installed to add strength to the decks. It has plenty of strength to keep the rear hatch down and sealed (using tubular neoprene gasket) by pushing down on the epoxied and varnished sitka spruce handles (Marty's idea)

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5 coats of matte spar varnish on the decks, a few little fixes here and there, and here's the last shot from the workshop:

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Last edited by davea on Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
davea
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Re: RowCruiser Build Log from a Newbie

Post by davea »

And now for the fun part, using the thing....

Putting in at the first proper trip (Broken Group Islands):

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In the next shot you can see the dual carry handles I installed at the bow --made for kayaks I think but it works great for hauling ashore while loaded and plenty strong to lift the boat even while loaded with gear:

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First passenger -- rowed for 20km that day with a tripmate who wasn't feeling well enough to paddle her own kayak. Still kept up with all the kayakers...

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And some snaps from a Sechelt Inlets trip:

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As you can see even with the medium grey color the hull still looks quite light. I may even darken it up a bit when I repaint it soon enough.

Finally, last shot to show that this boat is car-toppable!

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The roller at the back allows me to actually load it by myself (with some grunting) you just have to get the bow on the roller and then can lift it up from the handle the stern and roll it on to the rack supports.

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All in all I'm super pleased with the boat. It rows very well. I'm not a super-athlete of any sort but can maintain 9km/h in smooth water for about an hour at a time (just under 5kt) but the actual pace on 6+hr days and rougher waters with varying winds has been more like 7.5km/h (4kt).

The only issue I've found is that you need to shuffle gear into the bow during the day to balance the weight, which reduces windage on the bow and improves tracking. Without this weight in 10kt+ winds, you tend to do a lot of extra work to keep the boat on course. I've considered turning the bow storage compartment into a fresh water storage compartment to help with this...

I still haven't sorted out a proper anchor system for the bow, and have just been camping ashore or tie up to pilings or docks if there's any available. Sleeping out on the water with the stars in full view above is an absolute pleasure that I don't think I'll ever get tired of.

Thanks for reading and good luck with boat building adventures of your own! Really enjoyed this one and look forward to lots of trips to come.
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Re: RowCruiser Build Log from a Newbie

Post by wdscobie »

wonderful! great job!
--
:: Dave Scobie
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