THE COLD MOLD PROJECT
Can’t you just see yourself sailing into the sunset on this vessel? Of course you can. We knew you could. Every seaman has to start somewhere… this is where we started. As you can see we first built a handsome new ladder. We knew we would make uncounted trips up and down. The pile of refuse in the lower right of this picture is the interior of the boat! Jinna and I looked at each other and said;
“We can do this!” Yes, We Can!
By the way, Barack… we really DID it.
In this photo Jinna is removing the hull paint. In the next pic she is getting ready to reef the seams. Reefing is the name of the procedure used to remove all the material with which the seam is “caulked” or sealed. Each seam in the Borealis was caulked with cotton and “payed” with seam sealing compound above the waterline… and with a polysulfide seam sealing compound below the waterline. In the “old days” seams were reefed by hand with a hooked tool. The tool looked like a miniature crow bar, with a flat area opposite the hook which could be struck with a mallet.
Jinna used a Makita 4” circular saw with two blades stacked on it. In addition to completely removing the caulking the blades also expose clean fresh wood.The clean fresh wood thus exposed forms a superior bonding surface for the epoxy adhesive which will fasten the wooden battens into the seams
No, this is not the jowls of a baleen whale.
This is the hull after the cedar battens were epoxied in place. Note that there are even battens in the vertical spaces between the planks. Not only does the process of gluing battens in the caulking grooves help to seal the boat it also strengthens the hull making it effectively one piece.
This is a view of the port side after the battens were glued in place. The stack of wood under the tarps in the right side of the photo is three thousand board feet of white cedar. That was the raw material for the cold moulding process. We lived on the vessel while we worked on her. As you can see the wheel house is already roughed in and functioning.
This photo was taken before the battening was in place on the port side. You can clearly see the white cedar planks stacked next to the boat. The other stack of planks is Black Walnut. We made a trip to Coshocton County Ohio which is where we purchased the Black Walnut.
Which we used to rebuild the interior.
The White Cedar we acquired in Maine. On the top of the wheel house you can see the solar panels we used to power our refrigeration system on the Borey. There was no electricity or running water available at the boat.
In this picture Lonnie is cutting the cold moulding planks which will be attached to the hull. This was in our “wood shop.” Our wood shop consisted of four frames from a discarded boat cradle.
We placed them upside down and fastened them to each other with cheap 2X4’s Then we stretched blue tarps over the “structure” to keep out the rain. The shop was located under a Live Oak tree. The branches of the tree spanned almost 50 feet and hung all the way down to the ground. Our little shop was totally invisible because of the tree’s enveloping branches! Our electricity at first came from a Honda 3.5 KW gasoline generator. Later we got a two cylinder 4KW Westerbeke Diesel generator. Our lighting was Coleman lanterns.
This is a stack of cold moulding strips ready to be fastened to the hull. They were made by horsing 20’ white cedar planks through our ancient Sears 10” table saw, then run through our 12” Ryobi thickness planer to mill them to the proper thickness of .25 inch. This stack represents three days production! You can see we’re looking forward to seting sail… the docking lines and life preservers are hanging in the tree behind the planks! The blue tarp in the background is the north wall of our huge “wood shop.
Here you can see the cold moulding is proceeding apace. The first layer of cedar has been fastened to the starboard side and there is only a small amount left to fasten to the port side.
You can see by looking at the size of the wood stack on the right side of the picture how much of the cedar has already been used.
First, using a flexible trowel, we applied epoxy resin thickened with a “thixotropic” additive on the surface of the hull… and also on the surface of the cold moulding strip. Then working together we held the strip against the hull starting at the keel.
While forcing the strip against the previously fastened strip we, using a pneumatic stapler, fastened the strip to the hull with Monel® staples on one inch centers. Then using a plastic squeegee we smoothed the epoxy “squeeze out” fair. Then it was on to the next strip.
This photograph shows the second layer of cedar as it is being applied to the first layer.
If you look closely you can see areas where the epoxy looks thick in some areas on the surface of the first layer. This is because it is necessary to “fair” the hull between the layers of cedar. If you do not do this, the hull will exhibit low areas and high areas after the process of cold moulding is complete. Of all the effort expended in the process of cold moulding a boat the most tedious is “fairing”
In this picture the cold moulding process has been completed. We are now applying a coating of glass fibre cloth to the new cedar. The cloth we are using is called “18 ounce biaxial ‘S’ glass” We “wetted” the cloth with epoxy on a table near the stern of the boat. Once the cloth was thoroughly soaked in epoxy resin we rolled it like a window shade on a long dowel rod.
Then, beginning at the gunwale we would roll it down over the hull and tool it into place. The capillary attraction between the wet epoxy cloth and the hull ensures that the cloth remains adhered to the hull as it cures.
Here you can see Lonnie on the main deck holding the cloth in place as Jinna and Alfred smooth it to the hull. When we were finished we had applied two full coats of glass to the hull and deck / deckhouse. Then we applied an additional layer of 24 ounce “S” glass under the keel up to the turn of the bilge.
This is a photo of the Borey’s cast iron ballast keel. We had to encapsulate the keel in epoxy and cloth in order to seal the boat. We contracted the services of an industrial sandblasting company to aid us n the preparation of the surface of the iron. Within mere seconds of the iron having been blasted clean with glass beads, we coated it with unthickened epoxy resin.
Mere seconds elpsed between the time the iron was blasted and when the epoxy was applied. We used wire brushes to work the epoxy into the pitted and porous surface of the iron. The reason for the haste is that iron begins to oxidize the instant it is exposed to oxygen. This forms a patina of iron oxide… you know it as rust… on the iron. This patina compromises the adhesion of the epoxy. So speed is essential. After the coat of unthickened epoxy was applied we smoothed on a coat of thickened epoxy to fair the uneven iron surface.
This insured the epoxy, since the layers were curing together, would form a molecular as well as a mechanical bond.
This is the keel after having been totally encapsulated. It now sports its new skin… two layers of 18 ounce biaxial S glass and a layer of 24 ounce biaxial S glass. In order to glass underthis 28 ton boat we simply moved the pads she was supported on.
We built a new pad right next to the one we wanted to move, then hammered the old bearers out, transferring the weight to the new bearer. The result of this, of course, was that the boat settled an inch or so each time… but we had started out by planning for this. We gave ourselves extra inches in the beginning!
Here Jinna is painting the hull with Sherwin Willliams Tile Clad II®. This picture was taken well into the final fairing process.
We employ two different shades of paint. As a result when the hull is sanded between coats the low areas stand out… and we fill them with fairing compound, paint and sand again until the surface sands out the same colour. This process seems to take FOREVER.
Here is the Borealis on the day she was launched. This is the culmination of Two and a Half Years of backbreaking work. We finally have an air conditioner too! We were so glad to have the air conditioner working after all that tie under the oak tree that we sat in front of the cold air vent until our lips turned blue!