22 September 2014

end of summer burn out

I've always been conscientious about recycling,
and that's carried over to things that don't recycle.
It's taken about a year for this wood pile to grow.
Last minute we decided to have a bonfire.
We snagged a spot early.
While we waited for evening to come,
you'll never guess what I did.
Yeah more bricks.
So many reasons to clear out the debris.
Kids had a good time.
For some of the boys friends 
this was their first bonfire experience.
Dogs and s'mores.
We took the boat out too. 
Way wet and salty for pics.
Anyhow a good summer burn out.

19 September 2014

Brightwork - part 1

Traditional hot rodding has a ball and chain type mentality,
a lot of work per mile,
however there's a satisfaction 
that a part of history is kept alive,
be it style or techniques.
I've fallen in that trap with most of my hobbies you've read about,
and this little whaler is getting it's share of sweat equity.
The kids will either embrace it or think I'm crazy!
My go to analogy in building is the movie Iron Giant,
when the robot parts have the power to accumulate on their own and assemble themselves.
Many times I feel there's a strange coincidence
on how parts are found that are meant to be together.
It nurtures a sentimental value in a thing.
For instance,
the wood seat pieces were thrashed from sun and neglect.
One day the kids and I happened on a going out of business sale.
A cancer-stricken woodworker - Quimby Carpentery,
(which happens to be our street name)
had the exact mahogany needed for super cheap.
It was really meant to be.
Of course only enough wood to replace the worst pieces,
the others had to be refinished.
This is where that traditional thing kicks in.
New boats like new cars are simple,
lots of gel coated fiberglass, plastic and stainless.
Easy hose-off maintenance.
Older boats tend to have wood and brass that needs constant attention,
this is called brightwork.
There's an environmental responsibility in saving this old hardwood.
If ancient forests and habitats were pilfered,
then it deserves our respect.
You'll no doubt see a future project from the replaced seat.
Amazing how faded wood is rejuvenated after sanding,
and some old school varnishing.
Years ago I apprenticed under a couple salty captains,
each with their own tried and tested methods.
One thing they had in common was Epifanes Varnish.
This made the decision of varnish vs polyurethane,
and all the different brands and mixes easy.
Dang this stuff is pricey!!
I did modify the traditional application to my own hack methods.
A DA with 80 grit ripped off the old varnish,
and cheap 3" rollers were used to roll on the gold.
Man the smell brought back memories.
Even with the best bristle brush,
the technique for a smooth lay is difficult to master.
I had to try rolling and super happy I did.
Everything about this project was rushed.
In one hot day I applied 3 thinned coats,
only giving enough time to get tacky,
no sanding inbetween.
In addition the tops were double coated each time.
A sure recipe for failure.
Captain Cecil would be rolling in his grave!
Less then 24 hours later 
the resins had dried up enough to assemble,
and the sheen was almost perfect,
except for the typical flies.
I should have stained the bleached out hatch cover,
and yeah painted the hull interior!
Later on I'll add a couple more varnish coats to fill in the grains,
but for now the wood seems fully encapsulated.
We just want to get it back in the water!
The engine was also cleaned up.
I tried to get rid of that old man rattlecan.
If you look closely there's also a new panga-style tiller seat,
didn't want to waste that scrap!

18 September 2014

old home

When visiting Ventura,
I try to make it a point to drop by the old shop.
This was where the kids grew up,
and also where Chief was built.
Man the kids tore this place up.
Jaxon churned up a bunch of old memories,
like building a 13 foot high castle that they were scared to climb up.
I'd always thought of doing the plant thing,
much like I think of doing it here at the house.
I've realized I'm not the green thumb.
Too much watering.
It definitely softens up the place,
bet it's a great sound barrier too.
The old fence was still in place.
Made this to keep the kids and dog in the yard.
Inside totally different.
The landlord still the same,
expecting the tenant to do any repairs.
This was where I built the frames for a couple hot rods.
In the center there is a drain right to the main sewer pipe.
After grinding and welding,
I'd sweep and hose all the dust into the drain,
so the kids wouldn't be playing
in a hazmat site the next day.
Ventura has it's own water supply,
and at the time water rationing wasn't as heavy.
This is where the Red Dot roadster was built.
Lotsa fun happened here.
I always and still think this place is haunted,
there's a presence from years ago.
maybe when it was one of Ventura's first gas stations.
Anyway it has a good vibe to it now.

13 September 2014


This summer was great.
There was a sense of relaxation,
and the whole neighborhood felt it.
The kids were able to skate,
I got back into playing with little boats,
laying bricks,
chatting with neighbors.
We just had a fun time when we could.
No police,
no random video taping of our shenanigans.
This is of course my personal opinion,
but I'd bet the main reason for our long awaited happiness was a vacant neighboring house,
still lingering on the market.
A couple month staycation.
I shoulda known not to let our guard down.
Like clockwork we received our 4th or 5th code enforcement inspection warning.
In addition to the 8 or 9 police responses for noise and skating in the past year,
we've also had to deal with city inspectors and property management walk-throughs.
Each time amounting to nothing but a waste and unneeded stress.
This time around we met up with a Zoning Enforcement Officer - EV,
a step higher then the previous Code Enforcement Officer - TT.
It's a bit nerve-wracking,
As we aren't the most organized or cleanest,
but every thing in our yard has a story or reason.
After the first warning last year,
we are paranoid enough to know 
not to let it get too out of hand.
You wonder what he's looking at or for.
Thankfully EV was super cool.
He was here for one particular complaint,
an auto repair business with a junkyard.
He had seen the green 40 in front 
when he served the notice a couple days earlier.
Don't the bricks make it look cleaner!?
If anything each visit the yard is better not worse.
A little junk in the garage,
however one runs,
the other is plain cool.
Most importantly they aren't shelving units.
My new mess was from the whaler.
The engine swap made a bit of clutter,
which thankfully isn't auto repair,
and most importantly not a business.
It didn't take long for EV to understand our predicament.
He was amazed at all the paperwork I had compiled over the year.
Unlike previous inspections,
he had authority to close the case.
No need for supervisor approval after studying pictures,
then waiting a month for a decision.
What a relief.
Each time this happens I wonder if this is it,
time to move on.
That's renters life!
You'd think it was time to party,
let off some steam.
Well if that means laying another 5 rows of bricks...
Our home is safe til next time.

11 September 2014

.the shakedown

After a rollercoaster of a day,
the kids and I went out to burn some gas.
One of the benefits of Southern California,
starting summer fun on a September evening.
We all fit perfect in the little whaler.
Compared to the inflatables,
there was tons of room.
Funny the kids didn't like the seats.
Definitely not a stand up boat.
I'll probably weld up some kind of railing.
We shot around mission bay,
the kids comfortable with the tiller steer.
The 30 hp suzuki hauls butt,
even with the heavy hull and four of us.
Although it was fun to redline it,
the best part was the kids knew their comfort speed.
Good thing,
cause I pushed them out when we went to get the trailer.
Kinda like throwing them into a pool to learn to swim.
The perfect trailer landing!

09 September 2014

just add water

Sometimes I wonder,
will there ever be a hobby that doesn't start out as a project?
Then I realize that is what makes it fun.
Of course it doesn't seem like it while sweating away,
the reward at the end is far greater.
The last boat entry described the pieces to the puzzle.
Basically a long shaft outboard,
with the pre-72 whaler curved short shaft transom.
I spent gobs of time researching online.
There were many overpriced brackets I could copy,
but that isn't the style of boating I was raised on.
One of my earlier memories was my Dad building a wood and fiberglass skiff in the garage.
About the time when I got the itch...
That boat - Thumper - is still around,
owned by a family friend Bud with a similar project addiction.
Back in the kid sailing days,
we got a stripped sabot hull,
and with the help of Earl Elms,
rigged it up just like a bigger boat.
Can ya see I'm trying to place blame here?
That's how hot rodding is.
The cool thing about boats,
is you realize there is no perfect design.
Just like cars,
bolt-on stuff rarely works out of the box.
The fun is making an idea real,
and testing it's performance.
Ok excuse the ramble...
Where are we now.
This was the test mock-up of the mount.
Basically it's a rigid jack-plate.
Surprising how strong a couple little tacks are.
One thing I've learned to enjoy is stick welding,
especially stainless steel.
Glad I know how to do this,
cause buying this woulda been a bit pricey.
I missed taking pics of the install.
Jakob helped out,
and we had 5200 glue on our hands.
As you can see,
this is not only a riser but an extension,
which is popular on trailer boats.
The internet rule is an inch for every hull foot,
which probably just sounds good.
The idea is to give the propellor clean water,
away from the turbulence of the hull.
another rule is the farther away from the transom,
the higher the engine can be mounted,
allowing less drag and more speed.
Typically the cavitation plate is inline with the hull bottom.
All theory really,
it was time to test it out.
The next day the kids and I got a late start.
The engine bumped over,
and I was reminded this was a craigslist special.
We were dripping in the hot sun,
stuck on the trailer.
No pics of the kids,
we were all too salty.
Pull-start not fun at the moment.
Back home I tore into the carburetor.
Yeah this is a simple one carburetor model.
A little dirt in the bowl,
however the main thing I found was the tuning was way off.
Hard to see the pilot screw on top of the intake.
It was screwed all the way in,
basically suffocating the system at idle.
This is one of the side benefits,
as there really is no better way of learning.
Not to say I didn't think of ditching that boat at the launch ramp for a split second!
The next day I was antsy to test out the boat.
After a couple hard starts and idle adjustments,
the old gas burnt away,
and the engine seemed to want to run.
I can't imagine this with the 50 hp merc,
the 30 hp suzuki scoots right along.
I went solo,
cause it was a crapshoot.
A bummer to not share the view.
On one side was an awesome sunset,
on the other a mysterious lightning cloud,
next to the last super moon.
There's definitely room for improvement.
A tiller extension and trim adjustment would help,
as it's a wheelie machine.
That could change with riders though.
Now I wish the bricks went all the way back!
No good working in the mud...