Wow. Signs of summer. Magnolia blooms scent the air with lemons in the evening, and the rumble-hum of tractors cutting and bailing hay can be heard deep into dusk.
The first hay cutting is the biggest and best cut of the year. This is a big year for hay, too – twice as many rolls filling the fields as years past. All the rain and cool weather. It looks like a random modern art installation when the fields are full of those big round rolls. One day the grass is elbow high. The next day it’s cut and laying down flat like a blond carpet. Then boom the field is green again and covered with golden rolls – giant toffees spilled across a green felt tablecloth. Or a game of Brobdingnagian billiards.
Been very busy and very productive all week. If I can keep up the pace, these boats may be ready to launch in just three or four weeks.
Got the Rub Rails trimmed flush, tapered and sealed. And added one last lamination to the front of Caesura’s Stem, which was a tad too skimpy for my (and Doryman’s) taste.
Trimmed the blocky tops of the transoms finally. Terri has been waiting for this moment for years. She would exclaim how lovely the boats looked, run her hand down the sheer, then stop sadly at the strange square, rough posteriors. So this step made her very happy, and they weren’t even shiny yet.
The usual split tail top of the transom on Melonseeds is distinctive, and I do like it, and that’s the way it’s drawn in the Chapelle and Barto plans. But the second oldest Melonseed known, the one in St. Michaels, has a conventional arc top and, though I can’t really say why, that’s the way I decided to go with these.
All that work was finished by the end of the week. Saturday morning, T helped me turn them both over again, and the Transoms were sanded and prepped for sealing in fiberglass and epoxy. While dust settled there, work turned to Rudders, Tillers and Hatch Covers to prep for sealing, too. This included fine tuning the Rudder-Tiller fit and trimming off the Tiller ends flush, making latch hook loops to hold down the Hatches, and brass bushings where the Main Sheet block will attach to the Rudder heads.
Sunday was another all day epoxy marathon. Now that it’s warmer, though, all three coats were done in a day instead of two.
The Rudder blades were wrapped in fiberglass for durability. They’ll get banged up a lot on rocks and oysters, so a hard protective shell and paint make the most sense. The blades will be painted to match the hulls of each boat. The Rudder stock and heads are just clear coated, with the bushings cemented in place, and will be varnished. They, too, look like modern art hanging from the ceiling.
The Tillers are sealed, and the undersides of the Hatch Covers glassed, so now they can finally be varnished to match the decks.
Then it was on to the Transoms. This is one of the few places on these curvy boats where I could use John Blazy’s plastic film method of glass/epoxy application, because it only works on flat surfaces and bent panels. All I can say is this: It works very, very well indeed.
Using John’s method only requires one coat of epoxy, instead of three, which means it costs one third the time and labor, and one third the money. Since epoxy is the single most expensive material on these boats, the savings is significant. And, with all that epoxy left in the jug instead of on the boats, it makes the boats lighter, too.
But the real beauty of it is simply the beauty of it. This is the photo of a Aeon’s transom with the plastic film still in place, just before I pulled it off:
And this is how it looked the moment the plastic came off. I was stunned speechless, to be honest. No sanding. No fairing. No nothing. Just clear, flat and oh so glossy. The photos don’t hold detail in the spectral highlights, but in person the reflections of the lights look like mirrors:
And here is Caesura. All they need now is a little scuff before a coat of varnish, and the Transoms are totally done.
With the boats already flipped, everything is set for priming and painting. I can start sanding and fairing the rest of the hulls while the new epoxy cures. That done, maybe by the weekend, the first coat of primer will go on. Crazy!
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