Leveling Boat

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by FromMystic, Nov 19, 2011.

  1. FromMystic
    Joined: Aug 2007
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    Location: Mystic CT

    FromMystic Junior Member

    Hello all,

    Current project is building the pilot house in a 22' launch.

    I'm wondering if there are any resourses explaining the leveling of the boat while doing a project like this.

    The boat was leveled when we moved it in the shed but the guy who did it is no longer around and that was last winter. I'd like to be sure we are where we should be before we proceed.

    Thanks FM
     
  2. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    It's all about the waterline. That's the only true "level" on a boat and it's the line that all other "level" surfaces are based on.

    I'm assuming the waterline is either marked already, or if it's a used boat, you can see where it was before it was hauled?

    You need to keep careful track of the water line and make sure it is level fore and aft as well as side to side.

    One technique is to use a clear tube or hose with water in it. Tack one end of the tube to the wall and put the right amount of water in it to reach a known level. Now move the other end around the boat lining it up with the waterline and keep tweaking the boat until all the various spots are all level. See a picture of this water level on this other forum. Post #18.

    http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=8835.0

    Another technique is to use a self-leveling laser level and just shoot the waterline. Get it nearly lined up with the waterline, then move the boat until it's a perfect alignment.


     
  3. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    A laser is much faster, more accurate and easier then a water level. If it's a transom sterned boat, then place the stern on some equal height supports, which of course are level athwartship, then lift or lower bow to suit. If it's a double ender, you'll need to play with both dimensions to get it right. It's also easier to get the athwart level first, then adjust fore and aft then the other way around.
     
  4. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Damn it, aren't we supposed to disagree PAR? ;) Another +1 for PAR's post. I agree completely about the laser level. I use mine all the time, for everything like:

    *Leveling a hull
    *Putting bulkheads in plumb
    *Drawing straight lines on curved surfaces
    *Leveling a mold

    One of the most useful tools in the shop, aside from the grinder.
     
  5. wet feet
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    wet feet Senior Member

    Since the laser won't shoot through the hull,I would go with the water level.Otherwise you are only using half the waterline beam and risking inaccuracies.
     
  6. PAR
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    Location: Eustis, FL

    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Obviously you haven't a lot of laser experience Wet Feet. If you shoot the beam from the bow, it goes down both sides of the hull.

    Damnit Cat, I'll try harder.

    The reality is, you level athwart first then make the laser hit full length one one side as you bring the bow to meet the line. It should be noted that many boot stripes have a bit of sweep in them, so you work with the middle of the boat and if the ends appear to lift above the line a little, this is normal. A swept boot stripe is usually obvious once you get the close to level. The sweep will be well off the line, but the majority of the hull will be on it. Once level is established, then you should check both sides with shots from the bow and stern. It's not unusual to find one side is different then the other.

    Lastly, a good laser can get through a hull, if viewed at night or in a darkened shop. It's also fairly easy to setup a laser inside a boat for shooting bulkheads, seat tops, cabinet tops, berths etc. Once the boat is level, everything is easier with a laser. You can measure down from the rail to hit the LWL, if you actually need this line inside the boat.

    Bubble and water levels are a pain in the butt. I used them for years and never trusted them. A small air bubble can toss off the whole thing and you never can seem to hit the same place twice, with exactly the same accuracy. I've done the same boot stripe on the same boat, originally with a water level and a few years later, after some repairs, with a laser. Huge difference in the look of the boot. The laser's was crisp and no question of fair and straight. The water level with it's tick and go method always had some errors creep in, making the line look a little off in sports, regardless of how careful you where.

    A cheap and self leveling laser is available from several manufactures. I have a couple; a revolving, remote controlled one that cost an arm and half a leg and a $40 Ryboi that can be had on sale for $30. I suspect Harbor Freight has a cheap one, but I wouldn't buy anything requiring precision from them.
     
  7. wet feet
    Joined: Nov 2004
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    Location: East Anglia,England

    wet feet Senior Member

    The original post referred to levelling a boat,a different process to marking a boot top.He also makes no mention of the material the boat is constructed of and it may not be translucent enough to allow the use of a laser at night.
    I will stick with my advice to use a water level.I have used a laser to mark a waterline in a 45 foot hull mould and it worked reasonably well.For larger jobs,where the laser is a bit fuzzy,I used a water level to set a few points to use as targets for the laser and moved to a couple of positions along the length.I agree that once a boat is level it can be convenient to use a laser for cabinet work but for levelling hulls of any size,any material,day or night,I will stick with the utilisation of the Earth's gravitational field and some water.
     

  8. gonzo
    Joined: Aug 2002
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    gonzo Senior Member

    You only need three point to level it: bow and both aft corners. Leveling is not necessary though. Using the keel or any other reference is sufficient.
     
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