Organizing a Build Lots More Questions

Discussion in 'Boatbuilding' started by CatBuilder, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    OK, I'm in FL now and I'm nearly set up to start building. I have a few more setup things to work on, but the time is almost here to start actual building.

    I am looking at what I have received from the designer (Kurt Hughes):

    *Life size printout of the mold used to create the hulls
    *20-30 page set of blueprints/line drawings

    That's all there is at this point, although he said he recently sent out "specs."

    This 45' catamaran is my first boat build, so I am trying to understand where to begin.

    The boat has:

    • 3mm (several layers) plywood scarfed together and epoxied on the mold to create the hulls
    • *"sitka spruce" stringers - have not found any spruce yet
    • *composite bulkheads
    • *crossbeams
    • *composite deck
    • *composite deckhouse
    • *composite rudders
    • *composite daggerboards
    • *daggerboard cases

    I have narrowed things down to sticking to the core materials as presented in the plan. The deck and deckhouse cores are AL600 balsa. The hulls are not cored. The rudders/dagger boards are balsa cores, with foam around the edges, I presume to absorb any impacts, although the rudders are in a cassette and are kickups.

    Now is the time where I have to take those blueprints and somehow(!!) translate them into a boat and into a plan of action.

    The drawings are to scale, but they are very confusing to me.

    For instance: He shows a diagram of the large, scarfed panel you have to make to make up 1/2 of one hull to put on the mold. He shows several stations on that panel and shows it both at the cutout size and the size it appears after it is bent. HOWEVER, both views are superimposed on each other in the same color ink and I can't tell the lines apart! Ideas?:confused:

    Also, I don't know where to begin. I have a 30' x 60' space with a dirt floor.

    What do I do??:confused:

    *put down a tarp?
    *build some kind of strongback to support hulls?
    *what kind of bench would I need?

    Much of the boat is composite, indicated by arrows on the line drawings/blueprint that say things like, "6mm ply, balsa, 6mm ply, 6oz glass" to indicate the type of sandwich. These panels are everywhere except in the hulls. Do I try to make these ahead of time, before they go in the hull? It is difficult because you do not know the exact dimensions of the hulls due to the Cylinder Mold method. You can't know until the hulls are built. However, do I try to make panels ahead of time anyway?

    Where do I start? Do I build rudders and daggerboards first, in case I blow something vacuum bagging, so I only have to throw out a small piece rather than 1/2 a hull?

    How do you go about organizing a boat build, in general?

    How do I know how much material I need on hand for any part I'm making? I have a materials list for the whole boat, but I can't take delivery of all of it at once because I'm building in a hurricane prone area and a very humid area.

    If I start with the dagger boards and rudders, how do I know how much balsa, foam, glass and epoxy to have handy?

    Being a new builder, I thought my plans might come with things like "start on this section, then go to this section", or... even ... "Welcome to building a Kurt Hughes boat, thank you." I have nothing. Just a tube containing the life size drawing of the mold and a tube containing the blueprint/line drawing of the boat.

    Lastly, there are 3 pages of unlabeled squiggly lines at the end of the plan. I have NO CLUE what they could be. Obviously, they are contours of some sort, but they look like no obvious part of the boat and they are completely unlabeled.

    I'm a little put off because the plans contain very detailed specs on things I don't need, like what wiring and genset to put in, yet I feel they don't contain what I do need - a small, even one page, step by step.

    Can I get any help from anyone on that here? Where do I begin?

    PS: I've studied the Gougeon Brothers on Boat Building and have a lot of on-water experience, as well as systems and general repair experience, but have never built.
  2. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: North of Cuba

    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Wow! Where to begin? Let's start with learning new techniques and learning curves.

    You say there are several parts you want to build ahead of time using similar methods(vacuum bagging). You are on the right track to start with small pieces, because if you screw something up, you will have wasted fewer resources.

    You will want to have a level work area or a way to level any building jig/platform you are using.

    You will need to be able to run a chalk-line the length of the build so this necessitates un-movable areas on the floor to hold the registration marks both longitudinally and transversely. Large patio stones set flush to ground level may suffice here. Start with survey stakes and set off across floor with tape measure marking critical points where these registration points must be located.

    A work bench can be extravagant or simply planks set across saw-horses depending on the level of need.

    Thieves could be a problem so you need security unless you want to build your boat with a spoon handle.

    I would write to the plan's seller and ask him where are the missing parts. Be specific about which instructions are lacking.

    I hope this helps.
  3. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    Thank you very much, Hoyt.

    I'll take your advice to heart and start with the dagger boards. They have complicated cores, but seem to be the most simple items to play with at first.

    Great ideas about the patio stones! I'll use those and some stakes/lines to get everything in order. I'm sure I will need to put up some kind of strongback or quasi-strongback to hold the hulls upright when complete.

    Thieves: I nearly brought my marine shotgun down. :) I didn't want to transport it through NY/NJ. My wife will be bringing it down on a plane or shipping it to me. I plan to stay at the build site nearly 24 hours a day to guard it. I'm a bit over the top on security! ha ha ha

    OK, I'll contact the designer again and ask him about those contours I can't figure out. One more attempt to figure them out (maybe based on the area they appear in the plan) and then I'll ask. I'm never sure what I can or can't ask the designer without pissing him off.

    I know it's a big post with a lot of questions. Anyone who knows one answer only, feel free to just post that one answer. I put all the questions into one thread, as Richard had been saying to do. They are all related, so I figured, why not?
  4. Tad
    Joined: Mar 2002
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    Location: Flattop Islands

    Tad Boat Designer

    Unless the designer specifically sold you building are on your's not his business to tell you how to build the boat.....but he may provide some design advice like "can I substitute this for that" kind of thing.

    Far better is to get in contact with others who are doing the same thing....even better if they are a bit ahead of can ask the designer about that....there are lot's of build blogs....some very for them...they don't have to be the same design or even method, but that's a bonus
  5. welder/fitter
    Joined: Jun 2008
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    Location: Vancouver

    welder/fitter Senior Member

    From the site of Kurt Hughes designs:

    "I try to have the plans answer every possible question that a builder might have, beginner or professional. These plans have a very high level of detail."

    "...and all the technical support a builder might need."

    "CatBuilder", Call Kurt, explain that you need a starting push. I'm sure that he'll walk you through it. Do you have the construction manual?

    You'll need a build floor and , just like building most large things, you'll need a way to lay out and transpose centerlines, dwl, etc. . I believe that the preferred method is to build each hull, align them & build centre, bridge deck. So, don't overwhelm yourself with too much paper. shelve the other drawings & focus on hull construction, keeping the spec.s sheets and any details sheets needed for the hulls. Are these hulls being built upside down? LOL Don't let the plans burn a hole in your pocket! The better the understanding you gain at this point, the major headaches you will avoid down the road. As Tad has posted, talk to other cat builders. Don't be worried about asking simple questions, all of us meet challenges and sometimes think, "WTF do I do with all of this...?" Patience is important in boat building.
    Best of luck!
  6. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    When you build a strongback, you will have reference lines, there is a way to transfer them safely from the reference structure to the hull "plating" which will cover and hide them. Have a cheap laser level and transfer the waterlines, centreline, frames, buttocks, bulkheads positions to your workshop walls where you make a line with a pen (label them). Assuming the walls are rocksolid you´ll never loose a reference.

  7. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: North of Cuba

    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    Some posts sunk in ground could serve for placement of these reference points. Marks on tent walls won't serve well.
  8. Charly
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: st simons island ga

    Charly Senior Member


    From reading this and your recent posts here, IMO you are overwhelming yourself.
    If you have no build experience, you need to find someone who knows his way around a shop and hire him.
    Do you not have the construction manual? You should have received a cd with a pdf manual, along with a video that shows the cylinder moulding process. I would not start without it.
    Again just my opinion, but I would focus at this time on the cylinder moulding process-- this includes preparing your panels, ie, scarfing and bagging them flat to the floor or table, building the mould, and getting your gear (bag, vacuum sealer, vacuum pump or shop vac, mold plywood, etc, etc) together.

    You will have plenty of time to digest the fine points on the plans, but building is a step by step process, and you have to cross one bridge at the time. As Andre Segovia said in an interview once when discussing the works of JS Bach: "It is like a mighty tree, that it takes two men to look at. One looks up until he gets tired, and then the other takes over till he reaches the top." Your build will be like that. You will be able to do it on your own, but you cannot get your head around every issue completely at once.

    I am just as in the dark as you are, on some issues. I hope I can be of some help to others here that are in the same "boat", no pun intended. I am and will be noting my progress and posting questions in the Kurt Hughes Daycharter 36 Thread that I started in this forum. I just completed my second hull section this weekend, and so far so good.

    edit quote catbuilder"
    For instance: He shows a diagram of the large, scarfed panel you have to make to make up 1/2 of one hull to put on the mold. He shows several stations on that panel and shows it both at the cutout size and the size it appears after it is bent. HOWEVER, both views are superimposed on each other in the same color ink and I can't tell the lines apart! Ideas"

    Mine are labeled, but it should not matter, as long as you laminate the hull section and then lay the flat surface panel on top and cut it out. You have to loft the flat surface panel anyway, unless you received a full sized pattern...
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2010
  9. eric le marin
    Joined: Jun 2010
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    Location: Aalesund

    eric le marin naval architect


    I have been thinking of how to build my boat for almost one year before I started mine, and as far as I can see, yours is going to be a huge baby. If you can't find a book explaining exactly your building process, write a process by yourself. You will maybe use a lot of paper, but do it: it is called a work breakdown structure.

    For example :

    HULL 1:
    -find the wood
    -trace the lines on the wood
    -cut the wood to correct dimensions (where, how?)
    -scarf the pieces
    -install the mold (materials, power,etc)
    -move the scarfed pieces into the mold (46' long ? how ?)

    HULL 2:
    (here you can certainly benefit from what is above...)


    When you don't find anything else to write, you can be confident that you have though of everything. During the process, highlight in red what you need to solve, and take it one at a time.(ie one post on the forum ?)

    Hope this will help you to sleep better. You can't have everything in mind, but you can have everything on paper. But I suggest you try to find a good book, or blog of someone who did this kind of construction
    1 person likes this.
  10. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Would make some interesting and probably psychedelic shape, yes.:D I did not remember the tent, sorry.
  11. jim lee
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    jim lee Senior Member

    Where to start?

    Well, Maybe start with building the tender?

    -jim lee
  12. hoytedow
    Joined: Sep 2009
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    Location: North of Cuba

    hoytedow Wood Butcher

    It's ok. He could always fiberglass the tent. Then it would be stiff enough for the marks.:p
  13. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Then enclose the open ends, turn it round and put a outboard on.................:D

    Sorry catbuilder, we sometimes take it not too serious at all.;)
  14. Charly
    Joined: Dec 2009
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    Location: st simons island ga

    Charly Senior Member

    ...but then what kind of hardner to use?? how should the fabric of the tent be oriented?? who is the tent supplier:)

    Just teasin, catbuilder

  15. apex1

    apex1 Guest

    Tent fabric is ALWAYS oriented straight north in such application!:p ...amateur...:)

    Bare plaster gives a lot of strength added to fabric! Though I have seen bare female Ukrainians making stiffer tents on occasion...:D
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