Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage years.

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probablynot
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Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage years.

Postby probablynot » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:55 am

I wasn't going to bother you with this one. At first I thought it would be too quirky (and maybe even too simple) to interest the members here. But it's a scratch build, and as I progress I find I'm meeting problems no less challenging than the ones I face with my Enterprise build. So here we go.

First things first. The kayak was a PBK11, 11ft long, designed by Percy Blandford. The guy is still alive, in his nineties. Not very active these days, of course, but his daughter runs a "Percy W Blandford Appreciation Society" on Facebook and it's quite an active site.

I built the kayak in 1949, when I was 13. Firstly as a paddle-propelled vessel, then quickly equipped with a mast and sails. It went through 3 rigs, the first of which was made with bamboo and fabric from a war-surplus nylon parachute. These two pics show the second rig (under way) and the third one (parked on the mud at West Mersea, Essex). I'll be equipping my model with that third rig. Blue sails. There was also a genoa jib, slightly bigger than the mainsail, but I only ever got to use it once! And I didn't like the idea of leeboards, so I built and installed a dagger board (which I'll be incorporating in the model).
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It took me a lot of research to find the plans. The original was built from plans and instructions published in Hobbies Weekly magazine, and I didn't keep them. Long story, but I eventually found them in an American canoe/kayak archive.

I'm building 1/8 scale (ie, 1½ inches represent 1 foot). The original canoe was fiddly enough to build, but building the model is like trying to assemble a cobweb from straight filaments of spider silk!
My lovely little Proxxon table saw is coming into its own, providing me with strips of pine and hardwood in the right (tiny) dimensions.
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I found that I couldn't rely entirely on glue (woodworking or super) to hold things together. I'm using minuscule brass wood screws 5/32" long to hold the stringers to the stem and stern posts. Slightly larger than the right scale (I used 1" by 8 screws on the original) and they're cross-headed rather than slotted, but they'll eventually be covered by the fabric skin.
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Yes I know - some sanding to be done!
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It's an intriguing build. I'm amazed at how much detail I still remember of the original build, 63 years ago. And it's diverting much more attention from my Enterprise build than I was expecting!
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catopower
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby catopower » Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:22 pm

Hi Brian,

What a neat project! And one that has such a personal connection too. I think it's very interesting and deserves to be documented here. I'll certainly be following along.

I'm surprised that glue wouldn't hold the plank ends there – a little Tightbond and a couple plastic clamps should hold just about anything once set. Did you try heat/steam bending a little to get those planks to behave? Anyway, the screws look like they're doing the trick.

I love the old photos. This project must be bringing back some great memories for you.

Clare
probablynot
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby probablynot » Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:23 pm

Clare, I expect glue would hold the stringers in place OK once they had been properly located on the frame, but I'm using the screws to aid the initial location while I glue along the hull. When that dries, I loosen the screws a bit, then apply glue and re-tighten.
I just like the idea of using the screws, because I remember the problems I had as a 13-year-old kid trying to get those stringers properly positioned using one-by-eight brass screws. Two at each end post, and one at each frame along the hull for each of the stringers!
I'm not sure what fabric 'll be using to cover it. Back then, I remember buying a length of ten-ounce canvas from Gowens (sailmakers at West Mersea, where I used to sail). When I'd fitted it, I just slapped on about four coats of lovely ultramarine blue yacht paint, and I never, ever had a problem with bilge water! For the model, I might commission an old white handkerchief that's just about the right dimensions and weight. Then, I just hope I'll be able to find exactly the right shade of blue in the Humbrol range of modelling paints!

This is very much a remember-the-old-days build! It's a project that I'd thought about for many years, but it was only after I'd "got the bug" and bought the Artesania Latina Mare Nostrum kit that I suddenly understood that, yes, I could actually do this!
probablynot
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby probablynot » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:24 pm

Progress has been made. I got held up a bit because I'm doing this in parallel with a USS Enterprise build, but at last I've pretty well completed the main framework and now I'm looking at some of the niceties. Such as my own modifications of the original design (the daggerboard, in preference to an ungainly pair of leeboards, and my outrageous teenage sail plans).

The frame is now pretty well complete, and yes, I have built in the daggerboard and its case.
I've started on the floorboards. You might notice I've left out the middle forrard one - that's where I've got to install the stepping for the mast.

I think the next major step is going to be covering the frame with canvas. The original canoe was covered with 10-oz cotton duck, but I'll need something lighter for the model. I've got an old white handkerchief that's just long enoughfor the job, and the weight of the fabric feels just about right. On another site it was suggested I could use fabric from an old pair of stretch tights, but sorry, no, that just doesn't feel right!

After that, there will be the paddle to make, and the rudder, plus a few cosmetic bits of brass and mahogany. Then the mast, sails and rigging,

I made the original mast from Sitka spruce. It was hollow. I'd like to replicate it as accurately as possible, but I haven't seen any modelling suppliers offering Sitka. All I'll need is a plank at least twelve inches long and (say) half an inch thick, and my trusty little Proxxon table saw will help me turn it into a worthwhile copy of the original 8ft mast. Ideas, anyone?

Anyway, pictures. I'll post three of my latest. Two showing the full framework, the third (if they appear here in my preferred order) giving a close-up of the daggerboard casing and floorboards. Still two more floorboards to be fitted, and an extra bit forward of the daggerboard when I've dealt with the mast stepping.
However, I don't seem to have got them down to the approved size yet. Give me a few mins, and you'll see them in my next post.

Donnie's SOSMandel is so useful when I'm trying to poke thngs into place and fix them!
probablynot
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby probablynot » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:58 pm

Pics. Wouldn't it be nice if there were an online acceptable standard size for uploading pics? But hey, there isn't ...
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probablynot
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby probablynot » Mon Nov 11, 2013 6:44 pm

Now she's starting to look like my old Anastasia!
The 'canvas' is a piece of old cream-yellow poly-cotton I found when I raided the sewing box over the weekend. My original plan (of using fabric from an old handkerchief) proved to be no good - modern glues just didn't seem to take to the old stuff.
I stretched it over the frame just by sewing it on (see pic). Ordinary wood adhesive along the edges, and along the keel, held it in place OK.
I've since added the gunwale rubbing strakes, the stem and stern posts and the main keel. These are all held in place by minuscule bass screws rather than glue! I've never heard of screws being used in model ship making, but a while back I'd bought a whole load of really-small-scale wood screws on the chance they might be useful. Now that I've learned a few things, I can see that screws are probably not the 'way-to-go' in ordinary ship-model-making, but in this particular instance they were just perfect!
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catopower
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby catopower » Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:18 pm

Hi Brian,

Been kind of behind on the forums this week. Beautiful job on the kayak! I like how you made the fabric covering. I'm surprised that the old handkerchief didn't work though. What kind of glue did you try using?

Well, it all looks really great and the model is looking very impressive.

Clare
probablynot
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby probablynot » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:07 pm

Clare,
PVA glues were just too messy, and I ruled them out at once. Contact adhesive (evostik etc) was messy too, and anyway I wanted to be able to slide the fabric on the wood, to finish up with a covering that was reasonably taut all over.
Superglue seemed the most likely option, so before I attached the 'canvas' to the frame, I thought it would be a good idea to test it by sticking a piece of my chosen (handkerchief) fabric to a short length of plywood. For obvious reasons I couldn't manipulate the materials into place, so I used cocktail sticks! The result looked OK at first, but when the join was dry and I tried gently lifting the fabric away from the wood, the fabric just disintegrated at the edge of the glue-impregnated area!
This may have been due to the age of the fabric - the handkerchief must have been at least 70 years old!, but I think it's more likely that chemicals in the glue weakened it.
So I decided to use a slightly heavier - and more recent - piece of poly-cotton fabric. And I used woodworking adhesive instead of superglue. This worked very well on the test piece - I could use my fingers to work the glue through the fabric to create a good bond with the wood. I kept a bowl of water handy so that I could wash my fingers frequently!
So that is how I eventually attached the fabric to the kayak frame.

I have now added the bilge keels. All that remains to be added, to complete the basic canoe, is the mahogany coaming around the cockpit, and a pair of paddles.
My next challenge is going to be building the mast. It will be of spruce, hollow, with the halyards running down inside it. I'll need two little brass pulley wheels 3.5mm diameter! Can these be bought anywhere, I wonder, or shall I have to try and make them myself? I wish I had a metalworking lathe!
probablynot
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby probablynot » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:07 pm

This is now close to being (in miniature) the Anastasia I had so much pleasure paddling and sailing all those years ago!
The hull is painted in the original colours, and it's pretty well complete except for a couple of brass hooks on the side of the cockpit coaming to hold the paddle while under sail.
The basic mast is made, but it still needs several fittings to be added. Two little cleats and two pulley wheels for the halyards, plus a gooseneck for attaching the boom, and a length of aluminium track for the little slides that will be seized onto the boltrope of the mainsail. I haven't got any sophisticated metalworking tools, but I think I can jury-rig my Proxxon woodworking tools (lathe & table saw) for some of the tasks. It's amazing what you can do if you set your mind to it, eh?
Tomorrow, I think I'll have a go at making the rudder.
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probablynot
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Re: Model of 11ft kayak from Probablynot's 1950s teenage yea

Postby probablynot » Mon Jan 06, 2014 7:03 pm

Just a text update.
Christmas (and the preparations for it, and the aftermath of it) prevented much progress recently. However, today I have mainly been sailmaking! Go back to my opening post in this log, and look at the second picture. Today I made the mainsail you can see there.
Or at least I stitched it. And I inserted the battens. There are still some finishing touches to add (the reinforcing bits in each corner, plus the bolt rope and a leech line) but I'm so glad the stitching went well!
I'll stitch the jib tomorrow.
The mast itself is progressing nicely but slowly. Recently I spent about £460 on a metal lathe plus a whole load of extras, mainly because I needed two minuscule brass pulley wheels up at the truck end for the mainsail and jib halyards. I got them done OK, but that means they cost me £230 each! (OK, all subsequent turning work on that lovely new lathe is totally FREE!)

I can't really post more decent pictures until I've devised a short length of tracking on the mast, for the slides on the mainsail. And there has to be a boom, and an almost-vertical sliding-gunter-type gaff made out of something that looks vaguely like the 6ft bamboo pole I used on the original. When I've got all that worked out, you'll be among the first to know!
Promise!

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