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Thistle 1040 - Fiberglass sheathing with epoxy

wooden thistle fiberglassed hullThe first step in strengthening the hull was to lay up some fiberglass tape under the seat supports. These have now been sanded and the edges feathered. Next we'll sheath the inside of the hull with fiberglass cloth and epoxy. The purpose in doing this is twofold. Once finished with new wood and lighter mahogany rails, this Thistle will be underweight. My last wooden Thistle (1014) was 30 pounds light and could not be raced until I added six 5-pound dive belt weights distributed around the hull. Thistles must weigh 515 pounds when racing. Class rules allow for the application of fiberglass cloth inside the hull to add weight. You can't just add it in key areas to stiffen selected parts of the hull. It has to be added over the entire inner surface to be legal. That's fine for us because we need the extra weight and we want the other positives fiberglass and epoxy give us, that being a totally sealed hull with added abrasion resistance. The inside of a Thistle is a busy place when racing.

Wooden Thistle - how the laminted hulls were made

This is a great video of the making of a laminated Firefly hull. Thistle hulls were made using the same technique. CLICK to play...

Thistle 1040 - Rebuilding begins with wooden hull reinforcement

thistle seat supportNow that the hull is sanded clean and all the old wooden parts removed, it's time to start rebuilding. The glue used to laminate in these 1950s era Thistles can become brittle and fail after all those years. This is even more true in areas of high stress in the hull. You'll often find stress cracks in the laminate (5 layers of 1/16" mahogany) around the seat supports.  If the boat has been sitting on a trailer with inadequate support you'll find stress cracks or delamination in that part of the hull. All of these areas need to be repaired and strengthened to meet our goal of a boat with another 50 years of competitive sailing.

lofting pictures

I'm going to try to post a few shots of my progress


Ebihen 15 launched

A few months have passed since launching "Alice Gale".    We have sailed in various bays and lakes from Newport Beach up to Seattle's Puget Sound.

Sailing on Shasta Lake, CA

The two year building of "Alice Gale" is documented on my blog:

Garage work continues

The garage construction was completed in March.  We got busy at work and I started working on the garage again off & on in September. I have buit a workbench and purchased a new table saw.  I have insulated and sealed the ceiling and am now working on the walls.  I want to keep the humidity at 50%.  I just got a used Shopsmith Mark5.  I am considering inviting my neighbors to help as a community boatbuilding project.  Maybe I'll get lucky and find one or two people who can help me occaisionally.

getting started

After waiting far too long i'm finally getting started building my first boat, a 12'5" marisol skiff. I havent picked a name yet but Patience seems apt. The first job i've undertaken is lofting the boat full size. I made a nice sturdy and level platform, painted it up and got started with the grid. i took about a week to meticulously lay out the boss lines and called in a pal to check my progress.  He found a couple of hard spots and discovered my battens were the problem; a little lumpy.  i remade those, tweaked the boss lines and it was off to the races with the waterlines. As i dropped the waterlines from the profile to the half breadths i made the joyous discovery of a cumulative error in my grid and the whole thing was off and useless. i just got back in front of the fire after repainting the board and am just chomping at the bit to restart the grid tomorrow.

terrible as it is it still beats work and i'm stretching a new part of my brain. 

Thistle 1040 - Transom glued in

transomToday I did the final fitting of the transom, squared up the hull and glued it in. The 2x6 and clamps you see are there holding the hull in the correct position. Thistles must measure in at the transom. The boat should be 4 ft. in width measured at the top of the sheer and the height of the transom should be 15 3/8" from the keelson to a line connecting the top of the sheer on each side. It's important to have the hull adjusted and set to these measurements before you start gluing.

For readers who've not done this kind of thing, here are a few tips.

Thistle 1040 has a new transom

new transom for thistleI finished sanding most of the inside of the hull and before sealing the interior with epoxy, needed to replace the cracked transom with a new one. So, after gluing up a few nice pieces of mahogany, I now have a new transom. I used the old one as a template and have a good fit with the new one. I'll glue it in this weekend.

I used this project as an excuse to buy a thickness planer and it did a great job of getting the planks ready for gluing. I've always wanted one of these and I found a good used one on Craigslist.



Finally began the process of creating the building frame and the moulds for the Whilly Boat. I am using what is now  billed as pine trim boards (mine are 2 x 6 in 16' lengths) for the building frame side beams, and yellow pine boards in 1"x 2" dimension for the diagonal bracing. I am using the same pine for the spreaders on the mould bottoms that will attach to the building frame. I have selected 1/2" MDF sheets in 4x8' to create the moulds.

Best Marine Epoxy

My favorite epoxy? Progressive Basic No-Blush Epoxy

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