HULL ASSEMBLY

If you've read our tool section (or come back later and read it when it's done!), you will have come to some sort of conclusion about how you are going to cut out the pieces, and about now, or at least before you start the assembly process, would be a good time to start the whole cutting out procedure.

If you haven't actually got any lines on the timber, you'll probably be best advised to do that first, so you may like to go back one step to the marking out pages!

You've probably heard that boat building is a really complex procedure, that you need to know about steam bending of timber, and all sorts of other specialised skills. Well it's not particularly, and one of the trickier bits in the PDRacer is the very next step: Bending the chine logs. Once you've done that, you'll see that things aren't that hard, and you'll be well and truly ready to tackle the rest of the project!
 

 

CUTTING OUT THE BITS

We didn't take any photographs, but we used a very cheap jigsaw to make the four curved cuts and a straight edge and a small circular saw for all the rest. It would not be a difficult job at all to simply use a cheap panel saw for this work if one could not justify the cost of purchasng an electrical impliment.

Refer to our tool section for detailed suggestions on techniques.
 

LAMINATING THE CHINE LOGS
(or bending them!)

These are the framing timbers that run all the way along the bottom curve of the boat, where the hull sides meet the bottom.

The curve of the bottom is a bit tight, and depending on the quality of your timber, you may be able to bend it all the way, and just clamp or screw it into place while the glue sets, or just to be sure you get a good result you can do as we did, and glue two smaller bits of timber together, laminating them to form the required curve

Note that there's no need to make any fancy moulds, here we've stuck a bit of packaging tape on some ply to prevent the laminated bits sticking to it, and simply driven some screws every foot (300 mm) or so along the curve. The two pieces of our laminate are simply clamped to the screws till the glue dries. If you don't have clamps, you could temporarily screw one piece to the board, and the other to it, to achieve the same result.

That's it! That's as hard as it gets!

If you have chosen not to use laminated pieces, it could be simpler still, and you could just screw the timber straight onto the panel, bending it to the curve as you go along. At the really tight bit, you may have to cut a few kerfs (sawcuts) in the top of the chine log to help it bend. That's a bit messy, and doesn't look as good, but will work OK providing you do a neat job.

Throughout this page, you'll see lots of clamps. The red ones in particular are 3" screw clamps and can be bought quite cheaply, and it would be handy to have a few. Don't fret if you don't have any, all of the processes described can be carried out using sheet-screws as temporary fixings.
 

 

PLANING THE CHINE LOGS

If you've simply bent solid pieces of timber you won't have to worry about tidying up your laminated bits to give them a nice gluing surface, but that's what's happening in this picture. If you look carefully, you can see the glue squeeze out in the "before" pile.

Well actually this picture is a complete sham, as you would have guessed if you noticed that Michael is wearing earmuffs while working with a hand plane! Ooops, we've been busted!!

We actually used a belt sander for this work, but were concerned that everyone would think they'd have to go out and buy a belt sander!

You don't need a belt sander, a small hand plane is more than adequate, or alterrnatively, with a bit of planning, you could clean the joins before the glue was fully cured.
 

 

ORGANISING YOUR WORKSPACE

This particular table is just about the handiest thing since sliced bread, and we'll describe it one day in our "tools" section, but in the meantime you can see that we've got our glues and screws set out neatly where they are easy to reach.

You can't see in this photo, that the framing pieces for the hull sides (Chine Log and Gunwale) are in place and being held temporarily with screws while the glue sets.

The bulkhead at the other end of the table is clamped up ready to go!

FRAMING THE BULKHEADS

There is very little precision joinery in any boat, and here is a simple shortcut that guarantees that you'll cut the framing more or less the right length every time!

Instead of measuring, cutting, then checking that you've measured correctly, why not just measure and cut the thing in one action? It's really easy to line up the framing piece, then nip it off to length.

Here we are cutting the framing for a bulkhead, all 19x19 finger jointed pine, nothing fancy needed here.

BULKHEAD FRAMING

The front bulkhead and some other bit which I can't immediately identify. I thought it was a transom, but we pre-drilled our 2" drainage holes in the transom so it can't be that! The bulkhead has the hole in it (cut so we can put a hatch in for access), note that as this panel will be finished clear, we've avoided screw holes by using clamps till the epoxy sets.

The curvy bit leaning against the wall in the background is the side deck panel, actually four of them.

If you don't have any clamps (or enough clamps), it's not a big deal to use screws as temporary fixings and fill the holes once they've been removed. We even gave some consideration to using brads (fired by pneumatics), but we sail exclusively in salt water, and if water does get in..... still it's a very quick fixing method if you are in a hurry to get things finished.

HULL SIDE PANELS

The hull profile is now clearly visible in the completely framed side panels.

I searched every photo on PDRacer.com looking for inspiration before we even started, and I think by adding that nice boaty sheerline to the deck, Michael has come up with a beauty!

The current plan set (MkII) has a profile 25mm (1") lower than this, which makes the new boats appear slightly more elegant, if indeed elegant is a word that may be used in the same sentence as PDRacer, and as a bonus this also allows a bit more breathing space with marking out!

PDR16
ALL THE HULL BITS

Not quite, but almost all the major components layed out ready for assembly. There's still a lot of detail work to do at this stage though. The stuff that looks like blue chinese writing is actually tape, reminding us where the cracks are in our very cheap and VERY defective plywood!! Thankfully with 19 x 19 glued all round, the ply has become a bit less fragile.... here's hoping!

Even with something as simple as a PDRacer it's worth spending a small amount extra to have the durability of decent ply.

QUICK AND EASY

The easiest and quickest way of fairing boat frames when you are dealing with odd grain direction, epoxy dags, and end grain plywood is with a belt sander and a course grit belt.

This is the only thing I use my belt sander for as far as I can remember. If you don't have a belt sander, dont' despair, a plane will do the job just as neatly, but will need to be kept very sharp on all that ply end grain.

If you don't have a plane, you are running out of options, but you could slice carefully with a saw and tidy up with sandpaper.If you don't have a saw, well you haven't got to this stage of the project so you don't need to worry about it!

TRIMMING THE FRAMING

Rather than meticulously measuring and cutting each piece to size, we think it's easier to bung framing round the whole perimeter of each bulkhead and then just hack out the bits that aren't necessary later.

The bloke in the pic wandered in off the street to pose for the picture if you are wondering at the inept looking hold on the chisel, but it does go to show that you don't need any particular tool skills!

If you do point a chisel at yourself, and hit it with a hammer, PLEASE make sure you are not in the way of the sharp end if it slips. Nasty groin injuries can often be fatal, and I understand that survivors often wish they hadn't.....be careful!

JOINERY

This sort of gives an idea of how all the bits intersect. The picture shows fairly clearly what the cutouts are for, and when it's all together it looks as though it was designed that way!

Joinery doesn't have to be too precise, as the glue will fill all, but it's good to be within a mm or two!

TRIAL ASSEMBLY

Actually it's not quite a trial. At this point it's really hard to contain your excitement and you want to see what the hull is going to look like, this has the added advantage of letting you see if all your carefully hacked out intersecting joinery needs adjustment.

We've literally tied the bits together for the shot, using two clamps and a bit of rope, but of course a few temporary screws would have done just as well.

EVERYTHING FITS (SORT OF)

Once the hull bottom and decks are on, the boat has a chance of looking quite pretty (for a Puddleduck).

hile most of the boats built to date seem to have lee-boards, we will go the whole nine yards, and build a proper centre board case.

PDR22
FINAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS

Assembly begins by screwing the bulkhead and rear transom with wallboard screws. All screws will be removed later, they are just there to clamp the thing together till the glue dries.

PDR23
THE FRONT TRANSOM

The front transom gets added.

PDR24
FAIRING THE CLAMPS

The transom bottom clamp (the bit of timber that connects it to the hull bottom) is built oversize, and planed to match the angle of the hull. This is quite easy to do, and it is useful to span a straight edge across to gauge the angle required for planing, and better to check progress with an sliding bevel. Both transoms and bulkheads need the same treatment.

PDR25
READY FOR THE BOTTOM

Finally faired battens ready for the bottom to be fixed.

PDR26
THE BOTTOM IS ON!

The bottom finally screwed and glued. Again, all screws will be removed after the epoxy is set.

Presently the bottom is very light, but will stiffen up with the addition of internal structure and a couple of battens on the underside.

PDR27
THREE D BOATS!

Pics show one boat on the lawn this arvo, and the garage which is starting to look like a hatchery. It's amazing how the curved side decks (not shown) changes the boat visually; you'll just have to wait and see.

Well we got our two boats to a floating stage, but not operational...

We have no doubts that building one basic boat could be achieved in a weekend by a moderately skilled person, but two weekends would give a bit more relaxation time.

Our boats have a few complexities which we think will take another day's worth of work on each: Foils to be shaped and glassed, side decks and bouyancy tanks installed, centreboard case and thwart, as well as an adjustable mast step.

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In This Section:

Building notes and additions to this section are now on a monthly schedule, so watch our "news" pages, or check our ever changing menu panel as more building pages come on line:


one minute guide
building overview
• materials
• tools
marking out
hull assembly
hull assembly 2
hull completion
foils
spars
rigging
finishing
sails
signs and graphics
kits and supplies

 

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