Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A Puzzle With All Beige Pieces

Still working on the top.  Ok, technically I'm still working on the frame on which I will build the top.  Where we left off, I had created the curved stringers on which I will attach the foam core so I can start adding fiberglass.  Of course, a stack of 5 of these stringers won't get me very far by themselves. I need them to be spaced at about 2 foot intervals so they will hold up enough foam to create a 12 foot by 9 foot top.

I thought the hard part would be cutting the arc for the stringers, but it has taken me quite a while to figure out how to connect them all together.  Just a pile of lumber...or beige puzzle pieces.  The trick is to assemble the beige pieces together to create a sturdy, yet lightweight, frame.  Ideally, I need the frame to be stiff and not flex when moved about or when tilted or stood mostly on end (I figure this might help with applying the glass...since I don't have 6 foot long arms).

Stringers all in a row

It didn't take me too long to figure out how to attach the stringers to a couple of 1 x 3 rails. Actually attaching them was a bit more complex.  Having to line everything up and keep it level and square can be a time consuming process. Fortunately I heard of a trick of using superglue to help hold things in place and it made the assembly a bit easier.

After the first two rails were installed and holding the stringers straight up and lined up, I turned my attention to attempting to straighten the warped pieces of wood.  I could rant about the quality of the lumber at the big box hardware stores again, but I won't. Another do you keep wood straight that really doesn't want to be straight.  When assembling things, I tried to orient various pieces so the warping would provide opposing forces that would cancel out...but that only went so far. Then I had to figure out how to keep the frame somewhat light and still be able to hold the wood where it belongs.

Bracing needed to keep the stringers straight and square.

A lot of thinking and a few cycles of trial and error and I think I have solutions to many of the issues. So, now I just need to finish the assembly and figure out the best way to transfer the complex curve where the top will mount to the arch.  I have a couple ideas to try there, so hopefully it won't take too much more thinking about the issue.

The "shop" closed for the evening.

With any luck, I can actually start fabricating the top soon.  I just hope all of this goes well and the result looks decent.


  1. Wow - this is quite the project. I can't wait to see the finished product, although probably not as much as you :-)

    1. Yeah, it is a bit of a project and indeed I cannot wait to be done. It will be nice to have a hardtop so I can continue on the other projects (solar, dodgers), have a safer access to the boom, and be able to get the boat moving again. I just hope I'm up to the challenge of making it look good. Not sure if I'm crazy or just ambitious.

  2. Hi Mike -
    Rather than plywood, next time use Advantech or a variation. We went away from ply and lumbercore for the frames we cut and erect. It stays straight and holds a screw/staple on end. You should have come to Maine. I could have CNC cut a direct mold :-)
    BTW, if you know anyone looks for a couple very large format 5-axis CNC routers, let me know. I need to find homes so I can get out of here in October.
    Have fun!

    1. Oh that I'm done with the mold I get an offer like that. I hope there won't be a next time. :)