Tuesday, August 14, 2012

More Bike than Boat




The front gears are not yet set up, the rear are, the brakes work. As does the steering Some things I have noted...


  • The bent plywood seat is SO much better  than the original.
  • Foam sleeping mats for camping are perfect for lining the bent plywood seat.
  • The (very) tiny play in the linkage is not a problem at all.
  • I had to "fix" the USS as the original steering tabs were effectively longer at the forks, resulting in a gearing effect. The wheel turned less than the bars. (not good)
Some thoughts on riding the bike.
  • You can't easily move your body to balance. Counter Steering Helps a LOT. I learned this driving motorbikes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countersteering
  • It's way easier to start off down a slight hill.
  • There's no suspension. I do appreciate that's obvious. But you can't lift up out of the saddle. I may "spring" the seat. I've seen suspension seats for normal bikes. We shall see.
  • The USS bars have a lot of leverage back and forth. Even tightening the bars a lot at the bracket does not stop me from moving them about if I push or pull to hard. I am thinking of welding them at a suitable angle.
  • A VERY light hand on the USS bars makes the bike travel in a straight line. Less is MORE. Hauling out of the bars as you start off makes for a very short journey.

I like it. I like it a lot. It will need a little more work. Some tweaking. Lights, mudguards, pannier brackets, paint, etc. Once it's presentable I'll post some pics.

My welding needs a LOT of work. Right now I can make stuff stick, and it will hold against a car jack. But I'm scoring about 0.2 our of 10 for artistic merit, and that's only cause they hate to give you 0.It will take a bit of practice before I'm prepared to go out in traffic, and I need a decent helmet mirror. 


plans, forum, tutorials etc. are here http://www.atomiczombie.com/

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A little about welding..

Some good books

  • Farm and Workshop Welding
  • How to Weld: Techniques and Tips for Beginners and Pros (Motorbooks Workshop)

Phases of not being able to weld (just stick welding mild steel - lets not get silly just yet)

  • Can't strike an ark
  • Can't run a bead
  • Can't run a neat bead
  • Bead is (too high,  too flat, undercuts the metal, laced with inclusions)
  • Can't join metal at all
  • Can break metal about with bare hands
  • Can break metal with hammer
  • Can sometimes break metal with hammer
  • *Can't make neat weld to join metal
  • Can't always make neat weld
  • Take a lot of attempts to dial in the right settings on a different type of joint.
If I get past this list, I'll consider my self to be about "beginner" status.

I guess it's true of so many things. They seem simple until you start to learn about them, and then you find out how much is involved.

Some Simple Ideas 

(Bear in mind I'm an utter novice, so this has very little authority behind it) 

Too cold, you only join the surface. Too hot you burn through.

Too Hot, Speed Up to compensate, and you don't deposit enough metal, you get undercutting.

Too Cold, Slow down to compensate, you end up with too much metal, and inclusions from the slag getting around you.

As you run a weld, the metal heats up, at the start it's stone code. Circle at start for a second before you start moving.

On thin stuff you need to do short welds, then let it cool. Repeat.

More weld material does not make a weld stronger, a nice convex fillet is stronger than a blob as the blob introduces a sudden change in thickness of metal, which is a stress point. The weld is stronger, the joint is weaker. It will break at the edge of the blob.

Buy an automatic helmet. As a beginner this makes a lot of difference.

* I'm about here, on a good day. With varying degrees of the preceding problems.

Monday, May 07, 2012

And now I'm learning to weld...

It's a long way from boats, but I'm planning on building a recumbent bike. See http://www.atomiczombie.com/

I've started learning to weld, there's tonnes of stuff out there, the good the bad and the ugly. Some of it is just plain wrong. The dedicated sites are better than instructables & such.




 Ymmv, given that I don't know a whole pile about welding, do take my recommendations with a whole pile of salt.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Winter List

No boat is ever finished, and I have my list for the winter....


  • Brass rubbing strips on the rudder, centreboard and the front of the hull
  • Cargo Netting for bits and pieces
  • Fix the bow eye, it was too small and it bent
  • Add a nose wheel to the launching trolley
  • Add a winch to the trailer or trolley. This needs some thought, I want to make it easier to get the boat onto the trolley and the trolley onto the road trailer.
  • Wooden Trim where the hull joins the deck. More sanding.
  • Reapply oil to the seats, coamings etc.
  • Put the wooden bungs in the screw holes in the coamings.
  • Lazy jacks / topping lift
  • See if I can improve set up time for the mast / sails. I think if I have something to support the stern while on the trolley, I can raise the mast by hand. We shall see.
  • A mount for the GPS
  • Bilge pump (or pumps) that I can use on either tack.
  • A better way of stowing the outboard while towing.
There. Now I have a list.

It's longer than I thought it would be, but it'll get longer yet, lists always do.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sailing in November

My wife's family is from Cavan, and my parents have retired there too. So, on Friday we drove to Cavan, with the boat in tow. While my wife and the children visited her parents, I met my parents at the lake with the boat. (Thank you my love for the time you give me to sail.)

The lake was up about 4 - 6 feet over it's banks, which meant the car park was flooded to 18 inches. So I had to push the boat and trailer right through the (bitterly cold) water in the car park to get deep enough to launch it.

I'm now in my 40s, so Mom's claim to being 21 is not looking good, but she rolled up her trousers and waded knee deep into the lake to climb on board.

Her father was a Ship Builder in Arklow, and this was her first time going out sailing in a boat built by her son. The world turns.

It was also only my third time out in the boat. So her faith in me may be misplaced.

Using an A Frame, an open hinge, and temporary, sprung stays, I've hugely simplified hoisting the mast and setting up the boat, but it still takes about an hour. This time, I rigged the Jib for the first time. Up to now I'd only be flying the mainsail.

The lake was divided into regions of small waves, ripples, and of glass, depending on the lay of the land, and the shelter of the trees.

As you can see the lake is somewhat convoluted.


View Larger Map
Our journey went from the Bridge marked A above to the turn in the lake and back. Hardly an epic voyage, but an adventure nonetheless.
For the first time I popped up the Jib. It's on a rolling furler, and it was far easier to fly it and later stow it again than I'd expected.

Mom took the helm for a while, and we generally took it easy. In spite of it being the start of November, it was surprisingly warm, and the sky was blue, barely dotted with clouds.

At one point we tacked back and forth a few times to clear a copse of sunken trees whose crowns were barely half clear of the water. With a pivoting centreboard, and pop up rudder, I fear no shallows, but tangling with those trees could have left us stuck, but in deep enough water that getting out to push off was not an option.

I had not turned on the GPS so I've no idea how fast we were going. It was light enough air that we could sit one each side and sail without any concern of capsizing. There was a noticeable increase in speed when we flew the Jib. At times we "flew along", but when we passed through the shadows of the trees, we had to look at our wake to be sure we were moving at all.

The return to our launch site was narrow, close to the wind, and in shelter. After slowing to a halt and drifting back and sideways twice, I relented and used the outboard engine to take us in to where I could jump out

I'd like to say a big thanks to my father, who in spite of not having any wish to board any boat which is not large enough to have a choice of restaurants, did help me set up and tear down the boat, and sat reading in the car awaiting our safe return.

These lakes will be my sailing grounds for a while, and there's more than enough to explore. As the kids get older, there's plenty of "pirate coves" and "magic islands". I think I'll need to order "The Swallows and The Amazons".

Monday, September 26, 2011

A new toy

I picked up a Ceramic Folding Knife on the internet. $49 + $5 postage - from Canada to Ireland. Nice, usually postage makes things like that prohibitively expensive.

You can see them at http://www.ceramicknife.org/


It's about as sharp as you will make a steel knife without taking a strop to it. That is it slices paper like all the demos you see on youtube, it won't shave the hair off the back of your arm, but, it will slice through 8mm poly double braid without any fuss at all. (Which is more important than shaving your arm bald!)

The handle is stainless, the blade is ceramic. It's held together with tiny recessed bolts, so you can take the whole thing apart if you even need to. (Not that there's anything to go wrong).

It clicks closed, so it won't pop open accidentally. And it locks open.

It feels light, but not in any way flimsy. It takes a little practice to pop it open without your thumb getting too close to the blade, it sort of pops, and your thumb can slip of the stud. The blade is only an inch wide, if the back of the blade was a bit wider, there'd be more room for the thumb stud.

On the whole a very nice toy. I can't help thinking my modified Myrchin will still be my go too knife on the boat, 'cause I know it's bullet proof. But I suspect that this one will have it's place too. I just want to see how resilient it is.



But on the whole nice toy.




Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cutting Rope

I have a Myrchin P300 knife. It's really quite nice. But the serrations are very aggressive.
This means that

  1. It catches in the rope if you try to cut rope.
  2. I can't sharpen it very well (ymmv)
  3. At the end of it all, I take 3 serious attempts to cut 8mm double braid.
I have a small Leatherman and it has a plain blade and a serrated blade.  The plain blade will take an edge which cuts through 8mm double braid like it was wet tissue. The serrated blade, having shallow scallops, does the same, and is easy to sharpen. But it's fiddly to open, needing two warm dry hands.

So I got out my coarse diamond stones, and ground down the serrations on the Myrchin until they were less like a comb! Then I sharpened it (with a spyderco sharpmaker), and just because I could, I honed the blade on a cheapo cloth wheel powered by a drill with some polishing compound.

My Myrchin now cuts through the 8mm poly with callous disregarding ease. It sits nicely in my pocket, it has a pliers, and a locking marlin spike. And now it has the blade that I'd have put on it. It does not look nearly as scary as the original blade. But when your hands are cold, you are tired, and something is tangled, if you want to "untangle" it, you don't care much for how scary the blade looks.