Winter is Ending

But it's not gone yet. We're blessed with wonderful weather most of the year here in San Diego with the sad exception of the beaches in spring. It can be 80 and clear a couple of miles inland where I live, but be 65 and overcast at the coast. I know I'll get no sympathy, but if it's not warm and sunny we just don't go paddling. Anyways, that means we have not yet launched the new boat...

Painting the Canvas

With the skin sewed and shrunk all that's left to do is paint the skin. I'm trying Rustoleum oil-based enamel this time, it looked good on a test bit of fabric but this is my first time trying it out on a boat. The test patch was as waterproof as any other material I've used but was also noticeably heavier.

The first thing to do is mask off the frame. Blue tape and food wrap are sufficient for the exposed wood and I don't worry about the fabric in contact with the frame.

Fun with DuckyPoxy -or- Everything I Thought I Knew about Epoxy is Wrong

Testing Duckypoxy

You're probably already aware of this, but Chuck Leinweber over at Duckworks has a new epoxy product that's generated quite a buzz. It's BPA free, has UV inhibitors and supposedly won't go exothermic. Seeing as  I was initially drawn to SOF construction mainly because of the evils of epoxy (it's usually messy, toxic, overheats and has to be painted) this made me sit up and take notice. Epoxy is an amazing all around adhesive/sealant but hasn't been used much as a skin boat coating, Chuck asked me to give it a try and was kind enough to provide a sample.

A quick bath

Now with the sewing done I figured it would be a good idea to try to shrink the skin a bit. It's still getting up into the 80's here in San Diego so that means a good soaking with hot water and drying in the sun should do the trick. And if the skin doesn't shrink enough I can go over it again with a heat gun or hair dryer later.

I started with a 5 gallon HD bucket of hot water and a small pitcher. It took two refills but eventually the skin was completely soaked.

Sewing the Ends and Deck

One big drawback to my new canoes design is that the skin doesn't form well to the ends. In open boats and canoes there's a gunwale to define where the skin should stop. With a few staples and some trim the job is done. Slightly more difficult, the skin on long, pointy ended (technical term) kayaks can be stretched enough to lie nicely when wrapped and sewn. On my canoe, there's too much extra fabric to stretch flat so I gathered it and sewed in an improvised dart.

Skin on the frame.

With the frame oiled and dry it's time to start sewing the skin on the new canoe. There are a bunch of options for coverings, everything from seal hides to canvas. I'm not sure how difficult or expensive it would be to acquire a few hides, but I'm guessing it would be "tough" and "really expensive" so lets skip the most traditional option. Probably the next most expensive option is the Skin Boat Store ballistic nylon and two part urethane kit.

The Hot Knife

The strongest and most popular coverings for modern skin boats are synthetic fabrics such as ballistic nylon, dacron and polyester.

Like rope made of the same materials, cut edges of synthetic fabrics need to be sealed or they will fray and come apart. There are two ways of doing this, the first is to cut the fabric with regular scissors and then seal it by hand in a second step.

This nylon cuts easily with regular scissors.